I left after 6 excruciating months of serious prayer over the policy change regarding the children of LGBTQ families. I was horrified but towed the party line. I found I could no longer remain an authentic, honest person by staying inside Mormonism. I felt complicit in the marginalizing of these people. This was so much more personal to me as my niece is gay and her and her wife have two beautiful daughters. I couldn’t stay.
I gladly scarficed to live the teachings of the church because I had been taught all my life that Jesus Christ is alive and that he personally leads the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and no other church on Earth. I believed that Joseph Smith talked to God face to face, that he translated the Book of Mormon, and that he lived and died as God’s chosen servant incapable of leading anyone astray. I believed that current leaders of the church are similarly connected to God and incapable of leading anyone astray. For decades I set aside all doubts, concerns, and questions that arose to challenge my faith, believing that leaders of the church knew better than I did what was right for me and my family. I believed, because I was told so, that the good feelings I felt when contemplating on the beautiful promises of the church were evidence from God that everything I was taught is true.
So what happened? In June 2021 I was trying to understand what I as the father of an LGBTQ child, should be teaching my family about what it means to be a gay child of God. The church teaches that gay people sin if they act on any desires that are not heterosexual. LGBTQ people who can not or will not conform to heterosexual norms are going against God’s plan for them. The only acceptable life for a gay person, according to the church, is lifelong and complete celibacy – they can not act on love, they can not be who they feel they are, they must always be on guard against intimacy in any meaningful relationship. The church teaches that the gender binary is God’s will, and that gender fluid, non-binary, or trans people are confused and their non-binary expressions disrespect Almighty God and bring upon them His displeasure.
Despite my life long indoctrination, I knew this dogma was just wrong through and through. A historical analysis of the church’s position made it clear that they have been wrong for a long time on this and many other social issues. When I finally admitted that the church simply was wrong about many issues, a light started to shine through the cognitive dissonance and thought stopping walls I had built to protect my testimony of the church. I gave myself permission to study all sides and listen to all voices, for and against the church.
That is when I realized why the church vehemently warns members about searching for truth outside of church sources. Under even minimal scrutiny, all of the church’s foundational truth claims crumble. There is easily verifiable evidence that the Book of Mormon is not an ancient text, that Joseph Smith could not translate ancient texts like he claimed, that Joseph Smith led a life of secrecy and deception, that subsequent prophets do not talk with God, and that Jesus Christ is not leading this church. How many of the church’s truth claims need to be disproven to show that the Church is not what it claims to be?
The fact is, the church withholds the whole truth in most if not all corners of its history. It promotes half-truths that serve its agenda, and it uses a mix of beautiful promises, deception, and fear to keep people indoctrinated. Since the beginning of the church, the church’s doctrines have done incalculable harm to the most vulnerable members of society.
Leaving the church was incredibly hard and scary. At times I found myself wishing I were dead, yet I had a new horror of death. I temporarily lost all hope and meaning in my life. I grieved the loss of everything I thought was constant and eternal. I felt angry. I felt stupid. I felt duped. I wondered how much of my life had been a waste of time. I wondered what harm I had done to others on my mission, in my family, among my acquaintances.
With time, introspection, and with the love and advice of wonderful people in my life, my life has taken on beautiful new meaning and urgency. My commitment to being a good person and helping make the world a better place, a commitment that so many members of the church share, has blossomed outside of the stultified confines of the church. It turns out there is a whole beautiful world outside of the church and I am grateful to be finding it. I don’t think I would be where I am now without the beautiful things I have learned from the LGBTQ+ community and for that I will be forever grateful!
I left the church because the mother of my children had the courage to support Kate Kelly and showed me the research. We began digging and digging and like an onion peeled away the layers of excuses, lies, and abuse. The church's own history is why we left and are finding happiness. Our children will grow with truth and the skills to discern right from wrong. They will explore and grow without the weight to conform crushing their souls. People are meant to be free to have an equal shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We have gone to a place where we can give our children the best shot at it.
As an adult I became not only more aware of the systemic problems found in a Church that seemed to have forgotten some of its founding principles (such as Article of Faith 9), but that I wasn’t alone in my pain. I was stifled by the expected role of me as a woman, and doing what church leaders had told me to do did not yield their promised rewards. I began to resent God.
Ironically, discovering the Mormon feminist and activist community placed me on the path to reconcile with God. After years of trying to shore up my already broken shelf I had a powerful spiritual moment where God told me He loved me, and that it was OK for me to find a better spiritual path to walk.
I have met so many amazing people, each on their own spiritual paths, and have learned so much from them. I’ve also discovered not only fulfilling rituals in my new spiritual home, but more about the teachings and folklore of my old spiritual home. I wish the LDS leadership was secure enough to openly discussing the Church’s history, its wealth of theory, folklore, and teachings.
In the end no matter what Leaders, such as Ballard, say. They do not get to control my spirituality, nor my access to the Divine.
Made me question my belief in God. How could a God just sit there and watch all the injustice, racism, and misleading information (done on its name) and do nothing?
Apologists puzzle me..They make me realize that truth was never the goal..
I was full on TBM who had built up a reputation on my mission and at home as someone who could defend anything and everything about the church with anything (secular/philosophical knowledge and/or spiritual/testimony, etc) and had just walked out of the Legacy Theater in the JS memorial building, after having watched the JS movie there. In the intro to the film, JS's adoptive daughter was talking to Emma in her later years and it mentioned that Emma struggled with JS's polygamy. After exiting the building I noticed that bronze statue of Emma and Joseph in a depiction of how much love they must have had for each other. I thought to myself, God wouldn't allow any mockery of marriage, so if Joseph Smith married other women, then other wives must be equally amazing as was Emma, each with their own story of sacrifice, nobility, and each with amazing testimonies.
So I dove into their lives thinking I was going to discover a little forgotten piece of LDS history that would strengthen my testimony. I didn't get around to it for a while, but the interest was still there, and strangely enough little things popped up on FB about a timeline of Joseph's wives. I thought great, someone has already done a lot of the research and this will save me a lot of time. Boom, first thing in the time line: FANNY ALGER. I thought, WTF; this is entirely made up or taken out of context.
So I went to the LDS Essays, which I expected to settle all of my questions that were popping up in one satisfying motion. Nope; I only received superficial answers and possible explanations. So I searched for unbiased research that had been done on JS's wives. I came across FARMS and FAIR thinking TSCC wasn't going to go full academia on the public with the essays and instead must have put out a watered down version of what all the church historians and researchers really knew since they were knee deep in it and could most definitely settle things. NOPE! Their answers only made God's will harder to understand since it all seemed so inconsistent and contradictory which isn't God is taught to us. At best the answers from apologists were, "we just don't have enough information."
I attempted to talk to my wife about it later that evening that apparently JS may have committed a very serious sin while acting as the Prophet. I was assuming at the time, that maybe this is why JS's life was so hard at times, or maybe this tied into some other loss of priesthood for a time that tied into other things I had been taught in Sunday school. My wife, didn't receive my announcement very well because as she saw it, if a prophet couldn't keep his covenants, what hope was there for someone like her. I told her that this was a big of a deal as having someone accuse your spouse of an affair; if there are holes in your spouses timeline and they match up with the accusations, you can't just leave it alone. She asked me to be very careful in reading more about it and made me promise only research from church approved sources. I agreed because I sure as hell didn't want to face the reality of at best JS being a fallen prophet, but at worst he was a fraud.
There was much prayer, fasting, and serving in the ward; but after looking at the research done by apologists in an effort to help with my prayers and scripture study I had to put it all on the shelf for a while because I didn't like where it was going, and thought God sometimes answers things if you just give it time; kind of like making sure to get enough sleep while studying for a big test instead of cramming the whole night.
I gave it at least 3-6 months for God to help. Nothing ever came, and little by little no matter how bad I wanted to hold on to my testimony, I couldn't help but feel like I had just seen the man behind the curtain or the trick behind a magic act? I couldn't unseen what I had seen. TSCC, meetings, lessons, General Conference all seemed so hollow. I even fasted before General Conference listening for any message that had to either do with polygamy directly or a message to doubters. I was pissed that all I got was Elder Ballard saying where else are you going to go? Really?! You have a heap of evidence stacked against you, it all lines up with holes in your own stories, and all you can say is you won't find happiness without us. I knew at that point that this was the language of an abusive relationship and the shelf broke. But how did I break it to my wife? We had nearly had an argument just at the mention of JS possibly doing something wrong.
While I look back at this now, and wish I had brought my wife in with me to really dive into the accusations TSCC was dealing with; at the time I thought okay if TSCC is false the evidence will be there. I committed myself to objectivity and that either my doubts were going to be killed by this and I would have unshaken faith once and for all, or I was definitely never coming back. Polygamy was going to be my starting point.
I started compiling research on JS's wives (How they first met him?, The circumstance leading up to the marriage?, What methods were used to convince people to do it?, What were the EXACT rules for polygamy outlined in D&C 132? Did the practices match to the doctrine taught? Was the first husband aware?, What was Emma's knowledge of the marriages and was she ever lied to? Were the first husbands of polyandrous marriages ever offered a chance to be sealed to their wives? etc). Slowly other items I put up on the shelf all slowly started coming to my memory (God ordering genocide in the OT, blacks and the priesthood, 116 lost pages, etc). My mind was beginning to reject and throw up the Kool-aid. All I could do was just suffer through while the house of cards collapsed. The more research I did, the more I knew Joseph Smith was a fraud at this point for being a complete lying dirt bad, but how did this match up with the BoM, and the Witnesses, visitations of angels and the restoration of the priesthood? Was he just a fallen prophet? Then it hit me, if TSCC could have cherry-picked the history surrounding JS and polygamy to give members a more favorable view; then the same could be true for everything from the beginning. I decided to talk to my wife about the conclusions I had come to since I didn't really need much else other than knowing that JS was a dirt bag who lied, manipulated through deception his plural wives, couldn't follow his own rules on sex; and TSCC had covered it up making them just as guilty and illegitimate as well.
I put my kids to bed, and said a prayer going up the stairs to talk to my wife asking in one last act of desperation that if I was making a serious mistake to PLEASE, PLEASE stop me from what I was about to do. After a long night of me just spilling my guts to my wife (who hardly said a word), a few weeks of open discussion, a friend that was already out telling me that I should read the CES letter as well, and an agreement between my DW that there wouldn't be any more solo investigations; we both read the CES, and with some hesitation, we removed our garments, kept our tithing money, and began to wonder just what things we would end up doing now that TSCC couldn't tell us what to do. We are both living happier than ever out of the church.
Why I left. There is not a simple answer to that. But that is what I was looking for, answers.
In early 2017 I started my “journey” out of the church. It started slow, with just questions. Then it snowballed.
At the time of all of this, I was married with 3 kids. My wife wanted nothing to do with any of the things I was learning, nothing to do with the questions I was asking.
As it all did come apart over the course of a few months, I went from full mormon to, “physically in, mentally out,” to no longer wearing garments, to no longer participating at all. By May, I was basically out. My wife and kids (who were young enough they didn’t understand) were the only ones in my family who “knew.” In July we would be going on a camping trip with my family, who would catch on something was different. It was at that point I thought that I would write my own letter to explain to them my journey.
At the time I started a blog that I hate to admit, but I have all but abandoned at this point. At the time I found it really soothing to have a place I could type it all out and have a place to vent. If you care, the blog is at http://nowlookingforward.blogspot.com/ but again, I haven’t kept up with it at all.
The letter I wrote to my family is there on the blog (http://nowlookingforward.blogspot.com/2017/07/post-1-tip-of-iceberg-as-it-were.html) as well as other things I kept working on as time went on. The letter though is where I really went into the thick of it. Really researching and trying to find out why things didn’t add up in the church. It ended up being over 40 pages. But that is the best place to find my full exit story.
In 2013, after doing months of my own research, I decided I couldn’t believe it anymore. There was just too much. It was one thing after another and it all just fell. I felt betrayed but also relieved. During that time I became close to friends that identified as gay. I had a hard time believing any God that I wanted to believe in, would create someone a certain way and then tell them that it was wrong. I knew that I didn’t fit anymore. The church was no longer a positive thing for the person I wanted to be.
In the summer of 2017 I found out that my daughter, when she was 12 years old, was asked sexually explicit questions behind the closed doors of a bishop. This introduced her to pornography, and introduced her to masturbation. I had no idea this happened until 10 years after she left the young women's program.
Now that got me very upset to hear this was done to my child! Then I found out it happened to three more but my children. So four out of my six children were asked sexual explicit questions behind a closed door. I knew, everybody in the world knows that's wrong, dead wrong, except members of our church. I believe that the Apostles even know that it's dead wrong. So I launched a crusade to get this changed in our church. I was very naive I thought it would be an easy change to make. It's common sense for most everybody, but I didn't realize how dug in the church can be to things that need to be changed, that everybody else has changed. So that wants me on the on this path, I subsequently found out that this has happened to countless
people. It's a very very common practice in our church to ask sexually explicit questions and it's mandated you take kids behind closed doors. So, I collected thousands of stories of
people (as adults) who were harmed while they were kids and anywhere from suicide to physical
sexual abuse and then to psychological sexual abuse and there are just all kinds
of horrible consequences that have come out of these interviews. To raise awareness these interviews and stories are all shared at protectldschildren.org.
At the time I was an ordained Bishop, I can speak as an ordained bishop, not a former Bishop, not an exbishop, but as a bishop in the Mormon Church. I have been speaking out as a person who has this calling behind his name.
I was told by my local leaders to walk away from the cause. But I did not, to bring attention to this point, I staged a hungerstrike for 23 days with no response from church leadership. After a series of events, I was disciplined by the church and then excommnuicated from the church for speaking out against church policy and leaders, which made me an apostate. The disciplinary council often mentioned protecting the good name of the church, but I was more concerned with protecting children.
Since being excommunicated, I'm no longer a member of the church. I've found out so many other issues with the church and I can honestly say I'm happier now than I was when I was all in.
As a new convert I wanted to become a full time CES professional after graduation from college. After teaching elementary school near Yakima, Washington I worked full time for the LDS Church Education system from 1975-2002. I was a Release-Time Seminary Principal, CES Coordinator, Institute Faculty and an Institute Director.
I worked hard to become a noted defender of the church. I read everything, developed elaborate outlines and notes. I outlined chapters of the scriptures (all of them), with commentary.
The Mark Hofmann forgeries and murders troubled me. How was he able to trick the inspired leaders of the church? He made them look like gullible old men, no more inspired than "normal" people, eager to cover up embarrassing historical truths. They did not resemble god-led-prophets blessed with the gift of discernment. I discussed this incident with CES colleagues but their ad-hoc attempts to justify the prophets' obvious inability to detect evil did not address the fact that they lacked prophetic spiritual gifts.
". . . [M]en are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25), but I was miserable. I kept a journal and had large binders filled with life experiences and personal musings. I read them for inspiration from time to time (my personal Doctrine and Covenants), but all I could find on every page was guilt and feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness. It was a record of a man riddled with angst and shame.
Rather than bore readers with a lengthy list of "what else happened to me," I'd rather list the principles that left me wondering how I could have ever agreed to convert. Since Google and Bing and other search engines bring up instant results, I will not include references. They are easy to find with a quick search.
1. Magical Thinking.
Magic rocks magically showing the translation in English of an ancient text on golden plates, is only one example out of literally dozens that are exemplary of the kind of tall tales members are asked to assent to.
2. Loyalty always trumps Honesty.
I learned when studying and asking sincere questions that swift discipline and warnings came from leaders. They were not remotely interested in the true history and evolving and constantly changing position on "doctrines." Only that the membership would never learn the true history and absurd adjustments to doctrine.
3. Certainty Breeds Intolerance.
Teaching the gullible members (guilty!!!) to preface testimonies with "I know" is not only dishonest, it prompts members to think that they possess some secret and superior access to facts, otherwise unknown to the rest of the world. That's why in Mormon meetings all over the world on any given Sunday demean, criticize, mock and belittle those who believe differently. One of the dirty little secrets is that the "us versus them" mentality thrives among true believing Mormons and manifests itself in ugly, cheap comments about members of other churches and those with no religious affiliation. My entire family outside my wife and children were not members, and 32 years of mocking chirps still ring in my ears.
4. Emotions are Superior to Evidence based Truths.
The Mormon leaders' admonitions to members about why feelings (testimonies) are superior to anything else including facts backed by hard evidence. Searching Mormon conference addresses make this clear. The only exceptions I can remember are a sparse number of accounts by past general authorities who said otherwise, comfortable with their ignorance of science. The overwhelming message from leaders is doubt your (own) doubts and trust your leaders. Because they will never lead you astray.
5. Research About Memories Contradicts Mormon Historical Methods.
The church history I was taught in Institute classes and taught as a full time CES teacher, was based on what this leader or that member said or wrote in their diaries. Sometimes these diary entries were actually written years after the facts they described. Research on memories is clear. We don't remember events as if they were recorded on video or digital images in our brains. Instead, our brains reconstruct memories. And they don't do it very well. A perfect example of this is J Smith's first vision accounts that varied, grew, expanded, and became more grandiose with retelling and dictating over the years. Of course there are so many more examples, but this is one is easy. Smith's desire to seem like a real-live prophet sent by God may have overtaken his desire to remember his experience accurately.
Guilt and Shame are the Most Frequently Used Tools in Leaders Toolkits.
Having a large corporation also acting as a Christian church that is run by lay clergy (from top to bottom), means that they lack a host of personal skills. They are ignorant of methods to help and comfort. And they are told to listen to the Spirit to guide them in offering help to members. This is a recipe for disaster and wrecked lives. They "listen" to their own feelings and give guidance to members. That means every bias, superstition, stupid notion they carry in their own heads, is shared as if God were giving the members answers to their prayers. Rather than list the hundreds of thousands of instances that support that statement, read Ex-Mormon forums to become immersed in tragedy after tragedy. A typical and common place life story is one like this. Young girl/boy is raped, usually repeatedly. Feels guilty. Is warned never to tell anyone. (Secrecy is the tool of abusers) Tells a bishop what happened. Is told never to tell anyone, and that the abuser is a good man and "you need to stop trying to ruin his reputation." Oh, and by the way, you need to apologize to Bro. X for accusing him, heaping humiliation, defeat and shame on innocent people. The victim is sometimes excommunicated or disfellowshipped for confessing to being raped/abused. These stories are abundant, heart breaking, and the damage is immeasurable. Leaders' first loyalty is to defend the church. That's misguided. They are the last people church members should consult with their problems. The spirit does not make a plumber, a farmer, a postal worker, a doctor or anyone else an expert on human interaction and therapeutic intervention.
Greed and Grifting for Money.
Looking back on my gullible, completely committed membership years, I cannot believe I did not listen to my wife. (She is so wise!!!) She could not believe the church would require us to pay ten percent of our income to the church, when we were unable to put food on our table. That's not an exaggeration, we were unable to buy enough food for our family when the car needed a repair, or when some other emergency arose. My starting salary in 1972 was $6300 per year. After tithing, taxes, and living expenses, we frequently did not have enough money to buy the food we needed. We always budgeted for food last because it was something we thought we could cut back on in order to pay tithing and expenses.
Learning that the early church leaders did not require members to calculate tithing the way modern leaders to was startling. Written references and podcasts (sharing those references) make it clear that our tithing should have been calculated on the principle or interest, rather than our gross income. That means we should have made payments on savings, rent, food, gas, car payment, medicine, etc. and after that, calculated 10 percent of what was left over after taking care of family needs.
Instead, some Mormon leaders pretend to quote from the past general authorities, but cherry pick and lift, statements to make it appear that modern leaders and former leaders are sharing the same message about tithing.
Members Sin Better than All Others.
Lurking behind the "all are alike unto Christ" quotations and "God loves all his children" is an assumption by members, and sometimes hinted at by leaders, that "worthy" (hate that word) members are better than "the worldly." After all, members know they are to "live in the world," but not "be of the world." So many members I encountered in and out of the classroom, believe that Mormons are better because they live cleaner and purer lives. Members of the LDS church sin no differently, or no less than those "in the world." One need only read church history to note how often lying to protect the church and its leaders was used as a practical management tool. I started to compile a list of significant (not little ones) lies the church leaders have spread throughout history. I quit at 150 big lies from J Smith to the present. I didn't even include some of the worst ones. Mormon scams perpetrated on members are too numerous to list. They are clear evidence that Mormons are no better than anyone else.
Interviewing young children about their sexuality, questions about masturbation, private sexual practices, without their parents' being present is a tradition in Mormonism. Only now, as more and more publicity about the abominable practice is available, are the public becoming aware. And finally, Mormon believers are letting leaders know that they will not interview their children about sex and will not interview them alone. Mormon members can and should tell Mormon leaders that they have no "spirit of discernment" or "special gifts" or wisdom to offer young people. And that they will not allow leaders to interview children regularly about their sexuality or sexual practices. I cannot believe the Mormon church insists on continuing this unusual and invasive practice.
As Marcus Spears the former Defensive Lineman for the Dallas Cowboys would say, "It's about damn time!!"
As noted earlier, abuse victims sometimes suffer from intolerable treatment from Mormon leaders because of their ignorance and incompetence. Bishops and stake presidents call church headquarters to take direction when abuse victims confess to them. Instead, bishops should be directed to immediately call Child Protective Services and the Police. Church committees at "Headquarters" whose main interest is to protect the church from bad publicity should have no say in these matters. They are fixated on fixing things so the church does not suffer, rather than insuring that the victims find relief and support.
My disillusionment took 7 years. My ego was broken, all the things I had previously known were iconoclastically dashed against rocks, and I had to recreate myself. My rebirth included painfully distancing myself from my family and friends, the end of my Temple marriage, a major career change, and a seemingly endless existential black hole. But it was exactly what I needed. I began reading Eastern Philosophy and made an intense study of Zen and Yogic practices. I searched out the things that felt true from a variety of traditions and voices of wisdom and reason. I traveled a lot. Through all of this, I finally began to experience my own soul. Now, outside of the confines of the Church, I feel closer to what I consider to be divine than I had ever felt in my younger life. I feel a sense of purpose and I feel guided by a driving voice inside that speaks peace amongst the tumult of life. In this process of disillusionment, I’ve found an amazing community of like-minded friends, a loving partner, and, most importantly, myself. I’ve found a passionate love for nature and the environment, an appreciation for my body (where before there had only been shame), and a creative drive that pushes me onwards to make a difference. I try to take each opportunity to show love to those I come in contact with. That is where I’ve found paradise. I have become comfortable – and find peace – in the insecurity of “not knowing” what the future holds. Certainly, the darkness creeps in again from time to time. In those times, I let go of what I thought must be and tried to allow life to be what it is. It is an amazing ride – exhilarating, peaceful, and sometimes terrifying. But it is my life and I’ve never been more grateful for it.
To those who see me as an apostate led astray by Satan, I say, ‘I love you.’ I get why you hold your perspective. But hopefully, the fruits of my life will show the true nature of the path I’m on.
10 years ago as a gay, newly divorced father of four and former Mormon, where I would go and what I would do was indeed the looming question.
A lifetime of seminary, sunday school, priesthood, mission, BYU and church leadership had me imagining myself at best as a drug addicted felon like Matt Foley living in a van down by the river with no friends, family, job. At worst, I’d lose my family in the eternities.
The fear is real. And some of it is well-founded. I had a difficult time financially and emotionally for several years. Divorce in and of itself can and often does do that to a man. Add coming out and leaving your lifelong religion to the mix and it’s not going to be a cakewalk. But as I tell other men in the same position I was in 10 years ago, don’t divorce thinking you’re transitioning into some dreamlike peace and happiness. Do it if divorce is a reward in and of itself.
I’d offer the same advice for awakening Mormons making a rough decision to leave or to stay. Leaving needs to be a reward in and of itself, regardless of what exciting or terrifying experiences lie ahead. For me, divorcing and leaving Mormonism have indeed been their own rewards. I have had the exciting task of developing my own moral compass and creating a life that reflects my true soul rather than sticking to what some men tell me is “safe” and acceptable.
I’ve chosen to love my fellow man and have rejected doctrine, policies, standards and beliefs that don’t show that love…and it has made all the difference in the world.
Fatherhood has been my crowning achievement in that. In all that has passed, my four kids have always come first. I believe I’m a better father today than I ever would have been working 10+ hours a week out of the home on church callings, unhappily married to their mother and repressing such a fundamental part of my soul. I’ve been fortunate over the years to spend 1 on 1 time with each of my children and I have an unconditionally loving relationship with them, even with the ones who are still gravitating towards the LDS church.
What’s new is that my entire life is patterned after my own hard fought for values, rather than the pre-packaged standards and rules created by others. I’m still single. I haven’t replaced Mormonism with a different belief system. I still have good days and bad days. But I’ve experienced deep passionate love, familial love and acceptance, and financial successes that shadow the failures.
I gathered the courage to leave it about two and a half years ago. Though consequently, it resulted in a divorce, I have never been happier. I am now free to live, think and feel how I want to. I live my life on my own terms. I’ve made friends more sincere than those in the church I’ve known my whole life. I’ve come to get to know myself and gained great self-confidence. I’m also now able to be a great Dad on my own terms. I’ve gone from confusion and suppression to joy and freedom, and love my life now.
When I was serving as the 1st counselor from 2002 to 2004, the bishop at the time challenged everyone in the ward to read the Book of Mormon. I was on board and excited about the chance to strengthen my testimony about it and dove in head first to that challenge. I encouraged all my family members to participate as well. My attitude and heart were right, but as I read, my logical mind took over and I found myself doubting the validity of it. I had a few specific, but strong issues with it that I struggled with but I put them on a shelf in the back of my mind. A few years later, in a High Priest Group meeting the lesson was about the translation of the Book of Mormon. After that lesson I was convinced that my doubts were unwarranted and that Joseph Smith truly did receive inspiration from God to translate. I was having a testimony roller coaster ride.
For many years a close friend of mine has discussed with me a lot of topics that I considered anti-Mormon. This friend is one that I respect and admire, but I rejected everything he told me. I will never make a judgment about anything important like that unless I hear firsthand from unbiased witnesses without an agenda. The things he told me were unverifiable even though he believed them to be true and he was convinced that the LDS church was not true. I stood firm to my beliefs.
In January 2010, on a flight from Minneapolis to Salt Lake, I sat next a Baptist Minister who lived very near where I grew up in Southern Idaho. He had even bought his house from a friend of mine. It was such a coincidence that I decided, contrary to my normal behavior on an airplane, to have a real conversation with a stranger. He told me about the Baptists' "Young Earth" beliefs and when I asked him about dinosaurs, he told me that carbon dating didn't work. I still remember my thought when he said that; "'boy those Baptists sure expect their members to believe some silly stuff. Wait, so does my church'". Soon thereafter, I decided to revisit those issues I had with the Book of Mormon. I determined that I was going to figure it out on my own with church-approved material and taking in to account the experiences that I have witnessed in my own lifetime. Long story short, I came to the conclusion that what I believed in my heart about the nature of God was contradicted by many things I read in the BOM. Chapter 8 of Third Nephi is a prime example. Also, many things written in the book were written in a style that an author would use, not an eyewitness or someone compiling records. In my lifetime I had personally witnessed many major changes in the church. I honestly do believe that all those changes make it better, however, I had been taught that the fullness of the gospel was restored by Joseph Smith so why did it need to be changed? I still shelved my issues. I wasn’t quite sure what to do at that point in time. Then one day I got some very terrible news about a member of my family. My life has not been short on adversity and this was one of the most adverse things that had ever happened. I was really angry at God, feeling picked on, ready to throw in the towel. Honestly, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was a hard thing for me, but I decided that I could no longer count myself a believer of the LDS church. Not even a believer in God. Not many months later, the church published an essay confirming the facts that my non-believing friend had told me many times before, about Joseph Smith’s polygamist marriages to underage girls. So many "anti-Mormon lies" of yesterday, are confirmed truths today.
I came of age in the 1970’s in the “mission field”. I was the overlooked middleish child, was listening to the siren songs of women’s liberation, the opening gay pride movement and my own north star. When I received my own copy of “Fascinating Girlhood” (I was not delighted) from my YMMIA leader, I decided right then and there that I wanted to travel a more interesting and fulfilling road. I had worked close to full time since I was 13 (more because my “mother” did not want me around the house, than not desire on my part) and on Saturdays I was dropped off at the library at 9am and left to my own devices until pickup around 6pm (if my dad didn’t forget me). My summers consisted of drop off at the pool across town at 6 am and pickup on my father’s way home around 630 pm. My older sisters both worked while still at home and then immediately escaped to BYU. With my two older sisters gone and me shuffled off to my own devices, my parents and the “family” were free to do as they pleased during the day. The church messages of “Love at Home” and “Families Can Be Together Forever” never really rang true to me. At the age of 12 I was kicked out of my Sunday School class and spent a year in the adult genealogy class. I was a curious kid. After my first personal worthiness interview, I also began to refused to attend any more interviews with a male, no matter how it was presented. I was a walking rebellion dressed as an compliant overachiever. I began to work more and more and was working full time by 15 at both school and a local hospital. I had very little free time and valued doing almost anything over going to church. I did mostly what I needed to do, to keep the peace, always with my own goals in sight. I broke with the expected freshman year at BYU even though I had been awarded a scholarship at the Y. I stayed in Texas to start college. I was a member of NOW and very active in the planning for theYear of the Woman world celebrations (unknowingly in opposition to the Utah/LDS assault). I was active in the beginning LGBQTIA movement on campus. It wasn’t till my sophomore year that I decided to go to BYU (I discovered my BYU scholarship was still useable and left Texas for Utah) so I decided to give the mormon way a chance. Soon I was attending meetings, dating a RM and wearing Honor Code approved outfits. The one time I attended class in a dress, my professor lead the class in a standing ovation. I remained active in my outside interests. Eventually I got married and bought into the whole mormon way of life. Despite being tight on money, we tithed and gave fast offerings. I accepted any calling offered ( once I had 3 ward callings, 1 stake calling and 1 regional calling at the same time). I went through the whole repentance process and tried to support and fill in the missed spots for my husband. It was a challenging life. I knew I would always be the one in our marriage to be more invested in our kids, making a living and the church. I really thought if I could find the right balance, my husband would blossom into the head of our family and a leader in Zion. It was not to be. At first I thought it was living in Utah. The church I experienced in the “Mission Field” seemed kinder, more focused on the improving self than pointing out shortcomings, more tolerant and center seeking and just kinder. Maybe it was my kids becoming teenagers; more interested in spreading their wings than remaining in our six square blocks of ward boundaries. I was still very open and active and accepting in LBGTQIA issues and women’s issues. I wanted my son and daughter to be choose their own way and the consequences that followed. I wanted my children to feel drawn to kindness, honesty and being respectful of everyone’s uniqueness. I wanted them to recognize that Utah was not the center of the universe and was somewhat a theocracy. After 24 years of marriage my husband’s unfaithfulness was finally more than I could try to pray away and I was no longer to accept the blame for his choices. Shortly after the divorce was final, I was called into my stake president’s office and asked for my help in keeping my ex husband active. I was told that I was expected to remain active “ because the woman was always more faithful.” My two kids were struggling with not only a divorce but a blatant “Do as I say, not as I do” situation in our ward. A member of our bishopric was also getting a divorce and he used his position to put his children and spouse in a bad light. Because my kids were the same age as some of that family’s kids they were aware of the terrible physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the father. I was also hearing noises that my Democratic yard signs were unappreciated. It became apparent that I would get no support unless I was willing to air all the tragedy in my own family. When this specific member of the bishopric was named the head of our ward’s Year of the Family, I began to fully believe the church was a big boy’s club. It was a continual year or two of being told I was wanting and I was wrong to not try harder. Moving out of the ward was not much help, my children were struggling despite having great bishops in their single wards. We all struggled on. Eventually both my son and daughter married LDS partners. I married again as well. My husband was not LDS but very supportive of my efforts. My children each told me; after several years of marriage that they and their families were no longer active and were relieved that I told them it would not have any impact on how much I loved them. I had begun to see a real “ believe our PR and not what is preached over our pulpits” in church and the issue of the church being intertwined in Utah state politics and the church against the rights of the LGBQTIA members. The final straw was the news of the church’s hoarding of monies. The way the church used tithes and such to finance the hate in California and several states. The church of my youth was kinder and more inclusive ( or maybe my insight as a child was kinder and more inclusive). Today’s church of uber strivers and one ups man ship is not for me. I formally resigned in late 2019.
I learned a lot of things from being an active member, a bishop’s daughter, and a youth leader. I learned to how to be confident speaking in front of a large group, I learned about community service, family bonds and coordinating large events. I learned a lot of good things from the Mormon church, but what took me the longest was to learn how happy I could be without it.
I struggled in high school and then my early years of college to decide if it was truly where I belonged. I felt pressure from church leaders, peers, family members, and seminary teachers. I felt that overwhelming pressure that makes you cry yourself to sleep, hum songs in your head when you don’t want to listen anymore, and question everything about yourself. I would hate myself to the point that I would physically feel sick and try to look for any vice to feel be better. About six years ago when I was living in South America for school, I decided I would never go back.
For myself, and now I know for others, it was one of the hardest, but the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I chose to love myself and to embrace what made me happy. I was scared for what that meant for my family and if they would still accept me. I was scared for my future and wondered if I would be alone. Instead I felt a powerful weight lifted of my shoulders. And hey, guess what- I’m still a good person! I can honestly say that I love myself and I took charge of my life. I am lucky to have supportive friends, a loving husband, and a family that opened up to still accept me, for me. Where will I go without the Mormon Church? I will find happiness and love for myself.
However at a young age, I chose to become inactive. I was a very confused young adult with a lot of questions. The answer I was given: to pray… which I did but I still felt very unsure about the teachings. I knew with what I felt in my heart, I needed to distance myself to figure out my place in the church.
I struggled a lot with this throughout my early and mid-20s. The judgment from my peers hurt and not feeling accepted damaged my confidence. I had no self-love. It took a lot of years and lot of self-discovery to really find that I didn’t need religion to tell me what kind of person to be and how I should live my life. I was a beautiful person inside and out. I’ve enjoyed becoming who I am and the continued growth that has yet to come.
My family, even though being inactive for some years, have all returned. My mom serves as a family history missionary and my brother and his wife are working towards becoming temple worthy and raise their kids faithfully in the church. I have chosen not to return. But I That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. I’ll always have it. And when I’m hiking that mountain or riding my bike, it’s in nature, that I feel closest to God.
Unfortunately my self discovery and acceptance doesn’t stop the feeling, although definitely not as often as before, of being the black sheep of the family and feeling judged by my appearance and life choices but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is at the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is my own and I accept that I can’t change what other people think of me.
I’m grateful for the incredible and accepting people in my life, my parents included and that means the world to me….their acceptance of my life. I’m me and I love me. Religion could not and will not change that. So you ask “where will you go?” … well whatever this beautiful unknown adventure called life has in store for me, I am ready. I embrace it wholeheartedly.
Unfortunately, I had many negative experiences at church over the years, beginning as a teenager, that have influenced my decision that the church is not a healthy environment for me. But more importantly, as I gained more life experience, there developed a divide between what I was taught and what I actually experienced. Then, another divide developed when I began to learn some of what I was taught wasn’t actually true. This led me to the conclusion that the LDS church is not what it professes to be and I no longer believe in any of it’s truth claims.
My faith transition was not something I took lightly. I spent several painful years trying to make the church work for me. Over time, it became more and more difficult to defend and justify certain things about church history, doctrine, teachings, and culture. I had pushed those thoughts away, put them on the proverbial shelf as we are taught to do but eventually I found myself in a position where my faithful arguments were so strained and untenable that I could no longer make them in good conscience. I could not force myself to believe that they were possible explanations any longer. I could not engage in the mental gymnastics required to make it all make sense.
The only area of doubt for me, in the beginning, was polygamy, and I almost stopped attending over that. My husband was very supportive, and we see things the same way, thankfully.
Fast forward 42 years later when the original 11 essays by the church came out in 2013. After reading the most problematic one (for my husband and me) titled "Race & the Priesthood," I was dumbfounded. How can the church say that Brigham Young was a prophet BUT he was a product of his time to explain his support of SLAVERY, for heaven's sake! What happened to "follow the prophet, and you won't be led astray"?
What a contradiction. I have two ancestors (Baptists) who owned a few slaves in the early 1800s, but they freed them when they turned 21. They were not prophets! They were just everyday people who had a conscience. The other concern my husband and I have with this essay is that it's so WEAK in its explanation about why BY refused to allow black people to have the priesthood or to enter the temple. There was NEVER a revelation about this, either.
During the pandemic my husband and I stayed home the last couple of years; we had a stake calling, so we didn't need to be there in person so we did Zoom. We began to do more research and read about the many discrepancies in the various essays and what the church has taught us all for 200 years. It also became clear why leaders have always said to avoid reading "anti Mormon" literature: Those articles disputed the things we were led to believe were true with FACTS.
Another issue for us was the "new policy" that came out in Nov. 2015 excluding children of gay parents from being baptized, etc. I knew immediately that Jesus would NEVER approve of such a thing. During my interview for a recommend a few years ago I mentioned that. I said I didn't think Jesus would approve, but I was willing to give Pres. Monson the benefit of the doubt. The counselor in the SP said with a condescending smile, "Well, Sister ***, it's good you're giving the prophet the benefit of the doubt." I thought so! Interestingly enough, Pres. Nelson rescinded the "new policy" in 2019. So which was done by inspiration?
During this time, we also learned of the $100 Billion nest egg that has been accumulated from tithing money. We were especially disgusted to hear about the $$$ put into City Creek Mall and Beneficial Insurance. It's wrong for the church to "build up gain" when the scriptures are full of examples of how Jesus views accumulating wealth. From what I've read, the LDS Church is now the wealthiest church in the world.
We've always paid our tithing in order to have a current recommend; however, it's hard to justify paying that money when it's going to some vault instead of doing some good. I realize the church does a lot of humanitarian work, but it could do SO much more! In addition to that, we know the church's opposition to the ERA and to gay marriage and rights, and we'd rather donate some money to groups that might help people now. We plan to donate some money to candidates who are for the ERA and against the NRA, for example.
So that's it. I've been an active member for 51 years, and although I won't attempt to persuade others, I am glad to finally have peace. While I believe in God, I believe all religions have some of the truth. Still, I have a sense of betrayal and loss; it always sounded too good to be true, and it turns out it was.
The big shocker came when I paid $800 in tithing. I felt a weird but dark feeling after handing that envelope to my Bishop. I wanted to know if this is right. Is this is my future life? This is a huge commitment.
I started evaluating my beliefs. I had dabbled a bit into "anti" material before, but not rationally. It was taken for a grain of salt just like every other controversial doctrine. I mean. I had come home from my mission brainwashed as ever. I believed I could prove anyone wrong with their own Bible.
Paying tithing was the breaking point for me because before then I had never really paid that much. I had summer jobs and the such but I was always reliant on my parents and living at home back then.
Within a matter of a few weeks I went from reading the CES Letter to articles on MormonThink.
I was in shock. Wrote a letter to my parents, and then after a few months to the rest of my family. They disagree but thankfully are understanding.
I have a younger married sister who is inactive who I was able to reach out to. I believe we have gotten much closer this year because of it.
I've realized the majority of them could care less about Science, History, Socio-Political issues, or Spiritual Issues. After learning about the psychological effects of religion, church history, controversial doctrine, etc... it became clear to me.
Who wouldn't want to be able to think for themselves... seriously? It's our life. Lets make the best of it. I realized I need to do what makes me happy.
I now find absolutely zero logic in religion. I used to think there was evidence it was true but luckily now I realize it was just all part of the game.
The only thing going for religion or the Mormon church specifically is:
Good feelings that supposedly mean it's true. Logic at its finest right?
A community of imperfect people doing imperfect things who are all brainwashed. Sounds appealing? Hell no.
I'm not totally against religion. But I feel now the same good principles I learned in the church can be easily just as learned outside of it as well. I'm talking about core virtues. Being kind, loving, charitable, etc. Good things aren't just found in some man-made God or church.
You can find some articles I wrote/compiled since exiting here:
- Facts most Mormons don't know about their own religion. (or what Mormons won't tell you): http://exzacklyright.blogspot.com/2013/10/facts-most-mormons-don-know-about-their.html
- The Journey To Atheism - Understanding Why Organized Religion Is Harmful and How One Can Become A Free Thinker: http://exzacklyright.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-journey-to-atheism-notes-quotes.html
- Mormonism Argument - The Prophets Were Just Men! That's why they are imperfect! Jesus Christ and God are perfect: http://exzacklyright.blogspot.com/2013/10/mormonism-argument-but-he-was-just-man.html
- The Jesus Myth: http://exzacklyright.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-jesus-myth.html
I'm glad I can now think for myself. Excercise my agency. Learn. Grow. Be more tolerant of the world. I'm the happiest I've ever been. I'm grateful for knowledge and truth.
I was feeling a bit of a crisis of faith after my postpartum depression (after my second child, who was actively my own choice to have.) I couldn’t feel the spirit anymore, at least not like I used to. I prayed and prayed that God would lead me to the truth, even if it meant that the church, which I had given everything to, was untrue. Then I studied.
I came across the CES Letter while watching a video on YouTube from an ex-Mormon fashion blogger about why she left TSCC. She mentioned how it completely broke her shelf. I had to know what this mysterious letter was and how it could turn a true blood Mormon into an ex. So I looked it up.
Then my heart completely broke.
It was like mourning a death. It’s still like mourning a death. I went through all the stages of grief. I GAVE THEM EVERYTHING. My life, my money, my loyalty. I even let them horn in on my sex life, from bishops prying into my “chastity” (I was a virgin till my wedding night but went to bishops because I never felt “chaste” enough) to letting them dictate what I would and wouldn’t do in bed with my husband. All the clothes I could have worn, the years I could have spent not wearing those SHIT garments. It’s gonna be awhile before I’m not completely pissed out anymore.
Luckily, my husband had already been disaffected for awhile. He’s dark-skinned Filipino and sick and tired of all the fucking racism in TSCC. So when I told him I wanted to stop going, he joined me whole-heartedly. We were also just about to move out of state, so the timing was absolutely perfect. We wouldn’t have to deal with resigning in a ward we knew. His family is also supportive, which is a big relief.
However, mine is beside themselves with grief. That’s a whole other story, in and of itself. I tried telling them as gracefully as possible but the reception did not go well at all.
But for now, I DON’T HAVE TO DO WHAT THE BULLSHIT TSCC TELLS ME ANYMORE!!! God, I’m so relieved! I never thought I’d be so relieved! I wanted the church to be true so badly. I would have pulled through till my last dying breath if I had the slightest inclination that it could be true. But it’s not. And now I’m free. 😊
Held many 'callings' (assignments really) until I was released as EQ President. Given a 'calling' in the Bishopric that I was not prepared for and no support was given. On meeting with the Bishop I shared that the 'call' was a mistake, I did not get confirmation when I prayed and fasted over the 'call' I received no support from him or the counselors. I told him it was a mistake to 'call' me. This kicked off a diatribe where I was told that the Bishop does not make mistakes. I was released and promptly was not given a 'calling' for 6 months. I stopped attending EQ and Sunday School because a) I wanted the new EQP to not be challenged by me (I tend to answer questions a lot in class) and Sunday School was just the same, same each time. Read your Scriptures, Pray, Keep the Commandments. No Substance. When they offered a 'call' as Sunday School President I told the now new Bishop that the last two times I was SSP there was no feedback from B'Ric or advise allowed about callings. If they were going to call a teacher or release a teacher I was to be informed prior to the pulpit. Even an SMS or email would do. He promised he would, that lasted a week so I gave up. No attending leadership meetings, no attending B'Ric meetings. No recommendations for teachers or anything. I will not be a checkbox for middle management.
Another instance when a new convert, a friend of one of my kids, was baptised and put forward to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood within 2 weeks of baptism and I objected as he was barely 18 and not well versed in Church culture. I was again told that the 'leadership' knew what they were doing. (narrator: They didn't as the boy went inactive soon after) but now with the added responsibility of the Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. I started to feel uncomfortable at church, I tried to sit at the back but no good, I put my efforts into community service instead and felt more of The Holy Spirit and love of God there. It all turned to crap when my wife told me that she was leaving because the church is true. I submitted my resignation the next day and the bishop processed the resignation with 30 minutes. In the past it was a serious struggle to get your name of the records but I guess he wanted me gone. So now I am Mormon with no church. A soon to be ex-wife who broke her Covenants she agreed to at the Alter of God when we were sealed for Time and All Eternity. 4 Kids, 28 1/2 years married, 32+ years together. She still believes, so I am the bad guy for not folding like a cheap sheet of paper. All my dreams gone. Yeah the church is true, the people are not, from Nelson down the people are not. God must not care about the Church either as he has not removed Nelson from his position. Currently writing my philosophy to share; hopefully I can help so people see the light.
My faith Crisis: I went through my faith crisis. I honestly don't remember what started it all. I remember being bored at church and I found myself disengaged and just playing on my phone all throughout church. I didn't know why I wasn't interested in what was being said, maybe because we hear the same topics all the time? Nothing new and interesting to me? I guess church felt very stale and stagnant. Well, one day I was questioning something about the church, and went to the dreaded "Google".
Long story short, I ended up on mormonthink.com. I read through a lot of different topics that I had never even heard about, and they made all these claims that I couldn't believe. This shattered my world, and blew my mind. I didn't know even how to react. So the first place I went after that, was lds.org. I looked for all these different topics that I was never taught my entire life, and was looking for clarification. I found that over the past few years, the church has put out a series of topics addressing difficult church history topics called the "gospel essays". I would encourage everyone to read these. There's actually a lot of information that I was never taught in these essays. This actually helped to validate some of the things that I was learning about.
Long story short, I was all over the internet (because that is our research medium now, books are unfortunately history), and learned about a lot of topics in church history that I was uncomfortable with. I went on a personal crusade trying to disprove that these things weren't true. But I couldn't. I've spent countless hours researching the history of the church... really too many to count. One thing that I have discovered and come to realize that I didn't understand until now, is that I have a choice in what I believe. Up until about 7 months ago, I felt like I didn't have a choice, that I HAD to believe what I was taught all growing up, and what was expected of me. I apparently had a very large expectation that was placed upon me (and I'm not sure honestly where it came from, if it was my mom and dad, or if it was the church, or if it was just me), and felt that I HAD to do what I was expected to do regarding the church, JUST for that reason, because it's what everybody does, and that it's what's expected. FINALLY, I realized that I can have my own sort of testimony and draw my own conclusions about the church.
My brain likes to study both sides of a topic, and then make an educated decision based on my research. So I did. I studied BOTH sides of the gospel topics that have bothered me, and have made some conclusions of my own. I believe that there is the whitewashed LDS version of the history of the church that I was taught my entire life, and that there's the 'anti' version of the church, and that the truth lies somewhere in-between. I don't believe that only studying the scriptures, LDS talks, and lds.org is the entire picture of our religion, I believe that that is only one side of it. I did A LOT of research and formed my own conclusions. I've never done this before. Even going on a mission, I didn't truly have a testimony of the church, I went because it was expected of me, I was raised to believe that there was no choice in the matter, and that I WILL go on a mission, regardless of what I believed, so I didn't really look much into studying the gospel. Heck, I think I finally completed reading the book of Mormon for the first time in the MTC. So that is where I felt that I truly had a testimony.
NOW, I feel different. I still believe in some fundamental things from the church. I believe in a God, I believe in an afterlife, and I believe in being able to see my loved ones again. I haven't been to church in a few months. I am struggling to really figure out where I fit in, with regards to the church, because a lot of people believe in a Black and white church... meaning you either believe it ALL or you don't... you can't be in the middle. Well, I disagree with this. I do not see life as black and white. I see that there are many different personalities, thoughts, and opinions, and that EVERYONE should be accepted into the fullness of the gospel, regardless of what you believe or how you act. But this thought process doesn't fit well in the church. I'm very open to accepting people for who they are, regardless of their personal situation. The church SAYS that they do, but in reality, they don't practice this (IN MY OPINION ONLY), just look at the most recent November church policy regarding gay parents.
So literally it’s been hell trying to figure out how I still fit into the church because I am more open to differing opinions and thoughts and don't outright reject them just because they're not from my church. It’s been quite a trip, and it’s been very eye opening.
I’m very glad to have stumbled upon this forum. I’ve had some great discussions and learned many things. It’s been nice to be able to come here and vent to you instead of taking it out on my wife and kids in real life. I see a lot of negativity here, but understandably so. But there’s also A LOT of uplifting and supporting people. So thank you for the support! Hopefully I can be here until I’m ready to move on. Not there yet, but some day!
I made my own personal website of all the major challenges that I see with believing in the LDS church at www.postmormon.weebly.com. NOTHING PROFESSIONAL. It's just my own thoughts mingled with research. Lots of good links also.
My oldest son is gay and left the church many years ago. I finally came to the conclusion that I just couldn't believe that God could say to to our son "Geez, what a shame you turned out that way. Now you have to be alone for the rest of your life." I had been slowly easing out of the church for years because I was finding things that were impossible for me to believe and it took a perfect storm of awful events over a weekend to get me to go cold turkey.
One Saturday in September of 2013, my now ex-husband got a call from the ward clerk telling him that someone from the bishopric needed to talk with us. At that time we worked in the ward library during Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society meeting. That was a wonderful church job for my atheist ex and me. It was good for him because he felt strongly that he needed to support me in church and working in the library meant he wasn't teaching anyone anything. It was a good job for me because I'm chemically sensitive and we had moved into a new building a couple of years before. The church building was still making me sick and I was rarely able to stay the entire three hours.
I worried about the impending interview all night. That Sunday morning, I heard a couple of the ward leaders in the hallway slamming gay people. I don't remember exactly what they were saying but it was ugly enough to upset me and I felt bad that I wasn't brave enough to confront them about it. Because it was during class, I'm probably the only one who overheard their disturbing conversation.
About twenty minutes later, the 1st counselor in the bishopric came into the library and asked us if it was a good time to talk. He then told us we were going to be released from the library and called to be the people in charge of cleaning the church. We would have to call people on Friday night and supervise them on Saturday morning. Immediately, I knew this call couldn't be from God, which kind of shocked me. First, my ex and I are introverts. We don't call anyone. In fact, we rarely even call our own children. Second, I'm allergic to most cleaning chemicals and I had just hired someone to clean our house so that I could avoid being exposed to them. I told him that we really couldn't accept that job and why. Even though I had known this man for 20 years and he knew I was a TBM, he told me that if I wasn't willing to accept church jobs, I would lose my temple recommend. I was totally flabbergasted! My ex told him that we would think about it and the counselor left.
When we got home I was really upset. Our home teacher had an appointment to see us that night and he spent his entire lesson telling us how evil and depraved gay people are and how they are ruining the work of the Lord. Again, I didn't say anything to stop him, who knows why, I was probably stunned by that point. The home teacher left and I shut the front door.
When I turned around my ex said "So?" I told him I was done. I was done with the church. Never again was anyone going to come into my house and bash gays. Never again would someone threaten my temple recommend and eternal salvation over me telling someone why I couldn't do a church job. We meet with the bishop the next Sunday to inform him of our decision and we've never been back. I know I would have left the church in the next couple of years because I was having problems with the doctrine, this perfect storm weekend just made everything very clear to me why I shouldn't stay any longer.
Starting at the beginning, I never felt that I belonged. It seemed that it was a chore for the other youth to include me, when they would include me. I was the only plus sized person in my ward. I always felt out of place, like I didn't look like a Mormon girl. A woman from the stake agreed with that and grew obsessed with "fixing me". Her grooming probably started when I was about 5 years old. She would touch my hair constantly without asking if it was okay to touch me. She even took extraordinary steps to try to force my parents and the state to make me her daughter so she could turn me into a pretty and skinny molly Mormon. All of her attempts failed. The next big thing that happened is really what triggered my shelf breaking. In 2019 all of the youth in my stake went to Nauvoo, Il. Wards were supposed to stick together, but the other youth in my ward abandoned me in old Nauvoo, not knowing the area or where I was supposed to go. I eventually found the bishop and his wife(not my favorite people as they accused me many times of faking my health issues.) His wife said I could walk with them. Back then, I had severe asthma, if I had an asthma attack I was supposed to be taken to a doctor, which the bishop knew. We started to walk through the groves to get to the temple. I started having an asthma attack and I collapsed to the ground. The bishop looked back at me and said, "I promised to be at the temple in 5 minutes and you're not going to be the reason I'm late." And they left me there. I got sunburned laying there. Eventually the Albuterol kicked in and I made my way to the temple. No one in my ward was concerned about me missing from the group or what happened to me. After that trip I didn't feel safe at church, mostly around my bishop. I took a hiatus from church to mentally prepare to go back to church. My young women's leader noticed I wasn't attending church and took me out for ice cream. She asked what was going on and I explained to her what happened in Nauvoo. She laughed in my face. I didn't know what to think of it and awkwardly laughed too. After that, I definitely didn't want to go to church. I started questioning why God would choose such awful people for those callings. I didn't have anyone who had gone through a faith crisis in my circle, in fact the church had me believe that hardly anyone ever leaves the church. I found Zelph on the Shelf, and that started my branch to finding the ex-mormon reddit, and ex-mormon content creators. I soon saw patterns in how other people were treated in church and how I was treated in church. I started learning about church history and the amount of abuse the church has hidden. I was disgusted and wanted nothing to do with the church. I decided to leave the church. I was 17 at this time and couldn't remove my records yet, so I told the people at church that I thought were supportive, of my decision. I faced a lot of backlash from them. I was told that I was just confused, or it's okay to step away for a little, but I have to come back or else I won't go to heaven. The relief society even got together to call the stake presidency and tell them that my soul was corrupt. No one would respect my decision or boundaries, so I cut out everyone I could. When I did get to remove my records, my father told me that all ex-mormons are bad people with bad agendas. It felt like the whole world was telling me not to remove my records, but I held firm and removed them anyway. I started feeling more, my personality could finally start to grow. It was kind of amazing. Of course there is the faith crisis and realizing you've been brainwashed your whole life, and I do still struggle with how much the church took from me. Since I left I've been running an ex-mormon women's support group with my best friend. Life is definitely better without the church. I can recognize abusive relationships now, and think about my needs. It's a decision I've never regretted.
It wasn't until I had been married for a few months and discovered that my first husband was a porn addict who cared little about me but only about his own perverted sexual needs, and started trying to deal with all that entailed, that I began to question the Church. My view of the Church at that point was not so much with a critical eye of its doctrine as it was strained disillusionment at the way in which every Bishop with whom I discussed these problems dealt with what I was going through. No Bishop to whom I talked while I was married to my first husband ever gave me answers that were either consistent with each other or that were logical from a religious (or sexual) standpoint. In fact, one Bishop told me that I was spending too much time concerned about sexual things when I should be looking at all things spiritually. Allrightee then...
The fact that I spent years blaming myself for my first husband's porn addiction (and the obvious outgrowth) was never a reality to any of the Bishops to whom I spoke, which seems unconscionable to me since they were obviously dealing with a young woman who was extremely confused. I resented them then, although I didn't let that deter me from my "chosen path, hopefully leading to eternal salvation," in spite of it all. I held closely to what I heard so many times in the past -- that "the Church is true, but the members aren't perfect." Even after my ex-husband in a "reflective mood" told me that while he was on his mission in Yucatan, Mexico, he "found out" that one of his missionary companions had a porn addiction, too -- so when they discovered that they had this in common, the two of them used to buy porn and go to porn movies together. I remember asking him if they wore their garments while they were having these escapades, and him sheepishly telling me yes. Why I didn't leave him then is also answered by the whole "Temple Marriage" scenario. I really wish I had been more of an independent thinker back then and could have left him before I had my daughter because she ended up being exposed to pornography at a very young age because of her father's obsession/addiction. Of course, I love her with all my heart and would never want to give her up, but I know it has been a struggle for her dealing with what she was exposed to back then. Shortly after I realized, undeniably, that my daughter had been exposed to the pornography, I finally divorced my first husband after 14 years of marriage when my daughter was 5 years old. This was brought about by my becoming aware of the fact that she had, without a doubt, been exposed to pornography on at least one occasion because of her father carelessly taping a porn movie over one of her Muppet movies. That was an incredible shock – to have a 4 year old run crying into my bedroom while I was folding laundry, distraught because the Muppets were gone and there was something else on the TV screen, and then to discover that it was porn. What a nightmare...
I know that the only reason I stayed married to my first husband as long as I did was because we had been married in "The Temple" and like the brain-washed, programmed Stepford Wife that I was back then, I believed that since we had been married in the temple, that meant it was forever, regardless of whether it made me happy in this life or was detrimental to my psychological and emotional well-being. My father even told me back then, in his very dogmatic, obviously non-supportive "pious Mormon" way, that I was basically stuck (not in those words, obviously, but that was the message). In retrospect, I know I should have left my first husband much sooner, but unfortunately that knowledge didn't save me or my daughter from the way in which we both suffered because of his "problem." It's amazing what we will put up with for ourselves that we will never accept for our children.
After my first divorce, I fell away from the church for a while, mainly because of the way in which things were handled by the Church relative to my first husband, his addiction to pornography, and what that did to me and my daughter. About 2 years later, I met and subsequently married a non-Mormon man. In looking back, I know that marrying him was an obvious reaction to what I had been through in my first marriage, especially since I was very reticent to trust another Mormon man after what my first husband had hidden from me prior to our marriage (and also because of what I had dealt with vis-à-vis all the Bishops to whom I had spoken during my first marriage, looking for answers that didn't come). During the first few months of our marriage, my second husband rapidly became very verbally abusive to me. During our first 2-1/2 years of marriage, I went through 5 miscarriages with him, and with each miscarriage, the abuse became worse and finally escalated into physical violence. During this time, I was not only dealing with the verbal and physical abuse but also the fact that my daughter (who was 7 when I married the second time) was exhibiting signs that she had been exposed to much more pornography than I had even suspected, and having her begin weekly therapy in order to deal with that. What made me aware of this was that I went to pick her up one day from a YMCA after-school program, and one of the counselors took me aside to show me a picture that she had drawn that day – she had drawn a very sexually explicit picture at 7 years old. Luckily, when the counselor handed me the picture, after looking at me and being mortified, I folded it and put in my purse – and although she asked for it back so she could give it to her supervisor, I refused to give it back to her but rather told her that I would deal with the situation myself. Otherwise, I’m sure we would have ended up being dragged through a horrible situation with Child Services. When I got home that night, I went through her room, and found additional pictures that she had drawn, hidden in the same places where her father had hidden his pornography, including under her bed, between the mattresses, in books on her bookshelf, etc. The whole situation was a nightmare. Very quickly, I found a therapist to whom she started going, who at first thought that perhaps she had been sexually molested. After several months of seeing him, though, he told me that he thought he had just been exposed to a lot of sexually explicit information. While it was a relief that he didn’t think she had been sexually molested, the aftermath of all of this still haunts my daughter (and me) to this day.
On top of all that my daughter was going through, she was also dealing with a step-father who was very mean to her, treated her as a second-class citizen, and seemed to relish in demeaning her. it was a horrible situation. Finally, not able to put up with any more from my second husband, I threatened to leave him -- and out of the blue, he had a "religious epiphany," deciding to join the Mormon Church. This obvious manipulation only kept us together for one more year, mainly because although he got baptized, he was never really converted but rather was only joining to keep me from leaving him. This was evident in many respects, but included the fact that he refused to give up coffee and still drank alcohol from time to time, even after he was made a Ward missionary and then Second Counselor in the Stake Mission Presidency. But despite the fact that he got baptized, he remained abusive and still exhibited a lot of the behaviors that continued to cause a lot of problems, so I finally left him for good. Shortly after that, he stopped going to Church and then started living with a woman, so whatever questions I had about his "conversion" were answered very quickly.
After leaving my second husband, I stayed very close to the Mormon Church. My daughter was a teenager at that point, and I made sure she went to Seminary every morning during High School and that she went to YW regularly (as well as Sacrament Meeting, of course). During that period, I had various positions in the Church such as Ward Chorister and Ward Choir Director. I also sang in the Southern California Mormon Choir for 3 years. Like I said, I was still very Mormon at that point in my life.
I was single for 4 years after leaving my second husband – and then I met my third husband on the LDS Singles website. He seemed like an answer to my prayers -- a good Mormon man, married to his first wife for 20 years and had 5 children. He and his first wife had gotten married when they were 22 and 20, respectively, and the story he told me was that she had a mid-life crisis when she hit 40 and that's why she left him. Their oldest son had been on a mission, and his second son was on a mission when I met him. I absolutely loved his immediate family, including his mother who is a wonderful woman (and Mormon to the core). All members of his extended family are wonderful, too. He is one of 5 children, all of whom are very active in the Mormon Church except for his oldest brother who left the Church while he was at BYU and became a Greek Orthodox Priest (strange transition). But in spite of that, I was very impressed by how all of his family treated this "black sheep son/brother even though he had left the Church, thinking that there were all very accepting of him in spite of that kink in his armor. Little did I know the reality behind it all.
My third husband's mother is a travel agent who takes people on Mormon Church History tours every summer, having done that for many, many years. So after we got married, my third husband suggested that we go on one with her, particularly since I had never been on such a trip. So in July 2001, we went on a Mormon Church History Tour with his mother and 45 other people, including my daughter. In preparation for that trip, and so I would know more going in and the places we were going to visit would make more sense, I decided to do some reading about Mormon Church History – since I had never really done any of that in my younger years. But what began as my wanting to know more about the history of the LDS Church became an unexpected foray into events in Mormon Church history that I never imagined had taken place. I quickly came to the realization that I had believed in a religious organization for my entire life about which I never knew most of the details of its sordid history or background. And I started to feel so stupid for having blindly accepted it all my entire life. One of the first things that struck me like a lightning bolt was that although I had been taught about polygamy growing up in the church, I did not know the details of what really went on. Because the Church has whitewashed it all and kept so much of it hidden over the years, only those members who decide to do their own research find out about all of that. Most Mormons don't do their own research but rather rely on what they are told in Church, in the Ensign, and during General Conference. What I discovered during my research shook me to the core. The apparent truth was that Joseph Smith lied to and deceived not only his own (first) wife, Emma, but many others. These lies and deceptive actions were done to supposedly bring about God's work and the commandment Joseph Smith allegedly been given, or at least that's the Mormon Party Line.
When I was growing up, I had heard (from various sources, including my father) that Emma did not readily accept polygamy as true doctrine, and was very ambivalent about it. But what I did not know was that Joseph went behind her back on many occasions to "marry" other women. It was during my research that I first came to know the name "Fanny Alger," which was no small feat since the church has gone to great lengths to cover up that aspect of Church history. To me, this is perhaps one of the most shocking examples of Joseph Smith's adulterous ways. He "married" Fanny Alger in 1833 without Emma's knowledge, and from what I have read, there is evidence that Fanny was pregnant with Joseph's child when Emma discovered the "marriage" (or "dirty, filthy affair" as Oliver Cowdery apparently called it) and showed her the door. To me, this whole episode is evidence that plural marriage was invented by Joseph Smith as a way for him to sleep around, to have his way with, and take advantage of, many women. For him to use his position as the Prophet, and use these women's trust as he did, is scandalous to say the least. But what is more shocking to me is that the Church excuses his behavior by saying that he was "human" as well as a Prophet, which is the thesis and theme of the "Rough Stone Rolling" book which the Church has backed and given credence to (even though they do not accept other books on polygamy and/or polyandry as truthful, including "In Sacred Loneliness" by Todd Compton). To me, though, no matter how you paint it, a person cannot be a Prophet and an adulterer. Those terms are mutually exclusive of each other.
And then I came to know the name Helen Mar Kimball -- who Joseph married when she was 14 after telling her and her parents that they would all be given assured eternal salvation if Helen married him. And so she married him. So obvious to me was the fact that Joseph Smith took advantage of a young girl who accepted him as a prophet, not realizing that he would say anything to bed another young girl. That is not only shocking, it is unconscionable. The Partridge sisters episode is another example of the scandalous nature of the history of polygamy -- since Joseph "married" both of them without Emma's knowledge, and then two months later when Joseph apparently convinced Emma to allow him to take other wives, and she finally agreed on the condition that she could select them-- and when Joseph consented to that condition, Emma picked Emily and Eliza Partridge. So the Partirdge sisters were married to Joseph a second time, this time with Emma’s knowledge, consent and attendance. This is unbelievably deceitful. And yet, this deceitful, lying man was supposedly a Prophet of God.
One of the first things that I discovered that began eating away at me was the discovery that Joseph Smith was arrested and placed in Carthage Jail because he and a group of "faithful" Mormons (including his brother, Hyrum Smith) had destroyed the printing press and burnt down the building which housed the Nauvoo Expositor (that had published a story critical of Joseph Smith and discussed his alleged practice of polygamy). In fact, William Law who published the Nauvoo Expositor had been a counselor in the First Presidency but was excommunicated shortly before that for speaking against Joseph Smith and polygamy. So, I discovered, these acts of vandalism and arson were the reason that Joseph and Hyrum Smith were in jail in the first place. To me, that does not make him a martyr, but rather a criminal. So with that discovery, singing the hymn "Praise to the Man" in honor of Joseph Smith's martyrdom became very difficult for me. In fact, on the Church History Tour, my MIL asked me to sing some hymns and to lead the tour participants in several hymns as well. That included singing "Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" at Carthage Jail; and "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" at the Sacred Grove. A very difficult time for me.
Of course, that brings up the questions surrounding the First Vision and the fact that there are differing versions of it. When I was growing up, I had heard little tidbits here and there that there were 2 versions of the First Vision, but since my father chalked it up to the variations of a story when it was told at different times and that it was "no big deal," I accepted that -- until I started doing my own research about it. It was then that I discovered just how different the story was told in several versions (not just 2), first being told in 1832 that it was Jesus Christ who appeared to him -- and then changing that in 1835 to say that two unnamed personages and angels had appeared to him. The "official version" on which the Mormon Church now "hangs its hat" was not even written down until 1838 when things were looking very bleak for the survival of the Church. From what I have read, there is a theory that since membership in the Church had fallen dramatically by 1838, particularly after Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmer brothers were excommunicated, apparently losing over 300 members at that time, that Joseph Smith decided to "beef up" the First Vision story to make it more dramatic and awe-inspiring -- and that is when it was declared that "God the Eternal Father and his son, Jesus Christ, two separate and distinct personages" had appeared to him, telling him not to join any Church on the earth at that time, and that he would restore the only "true and living church" to the earth. But not until 1838 did the "official version" now used by the Church come into being.
So between discovering (1) the truth behind Polygamy and what Joseph Smith did in connection with that, including marrying 11 teenage girls; (2) the reality behind Joseph Smith's death and supposed "martyrdom," and that he was not incarcerated because of “religious persecution,” as I had been told, but that he was actually a criminal who had organized a mob to destroy the printing press of the Nauvoo Expositor and burn down the building in which it was housed after a story was published about Joseph Smith and polygamy; (3) the differing versions of the First Vision, and the obvious fraud involved in perpetuating the story that Joseph Smith was visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as two separate individuals with bodies of flesh and bone; (4) the truth behind Blacks and the Priesthood (which I won't go into here other than to say there were many racial undertones to this “doctrine”); (5) the way in which the church deals with gays and lesbians, including actively fighting against gay marriage; and (6) the way in which the Church attempts (successfully to a large degree) to hide and cover-up its history and foster fear in members to not do their own research, especially on the internet -- I realized then that I belonged to a church that plays very fast and loose with the truth. Not talking about the history of the Mormon Church is bad enough, but actively working to suppress, hide and cover-up the reality behind it all is another thing entirely.
Despite my discoveries, though, I remained active in the Mormon Church for two more years, mostly because of my third husband and his family. Of course, it is significant to this story that in the midst of my research, discoveries, and growing concerns about the Mormon Church, I was also dealing with my third husband who, as it turned out, was the 21st Century version of my first husband. Yes, I married another porn addict -- only now I was dealing with porn via the Internet. And on top of that, he was also a sex addict and an alcoholic. Oh, and he was a Marriage and Family Therapist, too. A very strange and convoluted mixture of things.
Because of what I had been through in the past, I ended up doing a lot of questionable things with my third husband – and the things we did together eventually led to us both having Church Courts and being excommunicated. The conditions surrounding my Church Court (or “Court of Love” as they so like to call it) were very distressful to me as well. Being the only woman in a room full of 17 men (the Stake President and his two counselors, 12 High Councilmen, my Bishop and my then husband) was a humiliating experience, especially since I took it all very seriously and did as I was told, which was to tell all the sordid details of my exploits at the Court. Looking back at it now, I am appalled at myself for falling for their line that in order to show my total submission to the Court, I needed to tell all details of what I had done. In essence, I came to the realization that these were simply “dirty old men” who reveled in hearing the details of my experiences. What I also found distressful about the whole Church Court experience was that I had my Court first, and my then husband’s Court followed mine – and although he went into my Court, when I started to go back into the room for his Court, he told he didn’t want me in there. Of course, I was very surprised but I obeyed and stayed out – but I have always asked myself what he was hiding that he didn’t want me to hear. After all, I had “bared my soul” and had no secrets, but he obvious had some things he hadn’t told me and didn’t want me to find out about. Interesting…
After being excommunicated, I was devastated. After all, I had a member all my life and felt mortified at the current state of affairs. But I hung in there, thinking that after a year or so, if I “toed the line,” I could get re-baptized, and then I would be cleansed of all my sins and begin anew. Yes, Mormon programming took over – and kept me in there for a while longer. During the next few months, I went to many meetings with my Bishop and Stake President, where we discussed how I was doing on my journey back to the fold. But of course, since I had already uncovered a lot of very disturbing facts about the Mormon Church, as time went on, I had a hard time deal with all that as well as my excommunicated state. And after a while, my then husband and I drifted back into the behaviors that had caused the problems in the first place, and we both struggled with trying to rid our lives of those influences. After a year of so, though, I came to the realization that I didn’t want to be Mormon anymore anyway because of all I had uncovered, so I stopped trying to “toe the line” or getting re-baptized.
So when I finally left the Church for good, I had all of the foregoing reasons. But what I have discovered since then could have made me leave the church all on its own (since the evidence against the Church just seems to keep growing) – and what it all has done is cement the fact that my leaving the Church 6 years ago was the right choice. At the time I left the Church, I did not even know about Polyandry. I did not discover that until Thanksgiving Day 2008 when I went to my TBM brother's house for dinner. His wife was gone to Arizona to help one of their daughters after the birth of her third son, so my brother and I were able to spend more time together, just the two of us, than we had in a very long time. My brother is a Assistant Director of a public library in rural Georgia, and he also took over the task of working on our genealogy after our mother's death in 1977. She had gotten back into the 1100's in Sweden and France before she died, and my brother has gone back to Adam on many lines since then, mainly because of the advent of the internet. While I was at his house, my brother started showing me how he has converted the genealogy our mother did to the internet and entered it on www.familysearch.org. In the process, he showed me how to navigate that website, and even showed me Brigham Young's pedigree, showing all of his wives. Of course, since my brother is a TBM, I have not discussed many of my issues with him, and he was unaware that I had left the Church until I moved to Georgia in January 2006 (after my third divorce). At that time, I had told him that I wasn't going to Church anymore, and he responded that it was never too late to go back. Then I told him I had too many issues with it to consider going back, and he told me (obviously paraphrasing the Gordon Hinckley blurb), "Well, it all boils down to Joseph Smith. If you accept him as a Prophet, then you have to accept the Church is true. But if you don't accept him as a Prophet, then the Church is not true." Then my brother proceeded to tell me that he knows that Joseph Smith is a Prophet, and therefore for him the Church is true. I looked at him and said, "Well, that's one of my main problems. I don't think he was a Prophet anymore." He dropped the topic then, and although we have had some superficial discussions about why I haven't gone back to church yet since then, I haven't discussed anything more with him, mainly because my daughter and one of my nieces (who has also left the church, being the only one of his 7 children who isn't a TBM now) have asked me not to because they are afraid of it causing friction between us. Looking back at when I first arrived in Georgia, though, I wish I had known about Polyandry at that point because I would have launched into a discussion of that with him -- but unfortunately, I hadn't discovered that little tidbit yet. I figured that he had somehow rationalized out Joseph Smith's practice of polygamy, or that he didn't know all the details of it. What I really believe, though, is the former because my brother is a very intelligent man, having a Master's Degree in Library Science and very versed on many topics, including the Mormon Church.
After I got home that night, I went back on www.familysearch.org and found Brigham Young's pedigree again. Then I started looking at the names of all of his wives, and for some reason, the name Zina Diantha Huntington drew my attention. When I noticed that I could drill down beneath her name, I did so and saw that she was married to Henry Jacobs on March 7, 1841 -- and then was married to Joseph Smith on October 27, 1841, which was 6-1/2 months later. Puzzled, I drilled down beneath Henry Jacobs name to see if he had died -- but no, he was still alive when his wife married Joseph Smith. Of course, this completely blew my mind, and I started doing more and more research on www.familysearch.org -- going on Joseph Smith's pedigree, looking at the very long list of his wives, seeing how many were already married when he married then, and so forth. And as they say, the rest is history.
All of this has been very eye-opening for me, and it has been sad as well. I find it appalling that I spent 51 years of my life believing in a religious organization founded by an obvious con-man. That realization really shook me, and that was when I started to realize that the Mormon Church may actually be a cult, something I had heard it called as I was growing up and over the years, but something I didn’t believe back then. But when I researched that topic further, I began to believe that it is a cult because it fits every single parameter for that designation including the way in which cults control their members, the brainwashing aspects, the claim of exclusivity, etc.
Of course, my faith has been shaken to the core. What I used to believe is false. That is apparent. But what appalls me the most is that there are so many very intelligent people entrenched in Mormonism to this day – people who buy into whatever it is the Mormon Church tells them and don’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation, that they are being lied to and deceived. During my many years in the Mormon Church, it was said so many times that anything that is built on a shaky foundation cannot stand. But that’s what the Mormon Church is built on. Very shaky. And hopefully, someday, the people who are still trapped there will begin to see the light, and have the courage to get away. I am so glad I did, and I have never been happier in my life. The fact that I am now being true to myself and am able to speak out against it is a milestone that I cherish deeply. I have even written a book entitled, “Finding My Own Voice: A Former Mormon Woman’s Journey to Self-Discovery,” which I am in the process of trying to get published. And now that I have found my “voice,” I refuse to keep quiet anymore about the scam and fraud that is Mormonism.
Two siblings shared a story (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865619596/How-I-lost-and-regained-my-faith-LDS-man-shares-18-lessons-he-learned.html?pg=all#1qhQRUQThQJT5gTC.01) from the Deseret News regarding Rich Millar. Much of this letter has been sitting on my computer for a long time but I just haven’t gotten around to finishing and sending it. I’ve only had conversation with Dad about my beliefs and the things that led to why I stopped going to church and why I haven’t returned. You might have a hard time understanding the things I have to say but please keep in mind Rich Millar’s ninth lesson, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." – Aristotle. He also states that “we need to try to understand each other’s point of view fully before casting judgment or doubt.” So I think you deserve to know these things so you can understand what’s in my head and what’s in my heart.
As you know, I was a very good child growing up. There was literally nobody in my high school graduating class that didn’t know me and didn’t hold my opinions in high regard. I was even asked by the student counsel to help organize the ten year class reunion because they believed the jocks, the gothic kids, the band nerds and the a Capella group, the islanders and even the Hispanic cliques would reply more favorably to me than they would to anybody else in our graduating class. I respected everybody and was respected. I had no enemies. I was a very good student, friendly, always cheerful and more than willing to help anybody in need. I never skipped a day of class in school or seminary. I read the scriptures almost every day and prayed morning and night. The first time anybody ever heard me utter a swear word was at the age of 24 while going through my first divorce. Needless to say, I was a good hearted and obedient child. I had a huge internal drive to be a good person, to do good things and to make others happy.
Having set that stage, I had only one internal battle throughout my life: I didn’t know if the church was true. I desired with my whole heart to feel a conviction that it was. I felt like someday all my hard work in being this good person would pay off with the strongest testimony of the truthfulness of the church and that I needed to continue doing the things I was taught were right because eventually I would be able to stand and bear testimony that I honestly felt inside me that it was true. There were two key events in my life that weigh heavily on my mind and heart that I would like to share with you.
The first event happened at the age of 16, the summer after my junior year of high school. During the Christmas season, our stake leader challenged all the youth to read The Book of Mormon before the youth camp that summer. He made many promises that testimonies would grow and anybody that had a real desire to know if its truthfulness would come to know as stated in the last chapter. I felt like this was it! Finally my prayers would be answered! I would get to wake up on Sunday mornings and want to go to church to worship God. I would want to read the scriptures because God wanted me to. I would want to live my life the way I had been living it because I would know that God wanted me to do it and not because it was expected of me! I was so thrilled to be on the doorstep of being blessed with an amazing testimony and a feeling that I was in the right church and believing that it was restored through Joseph Smith. It took me three months to finish reading The Book of Mormon. I still had three more months before the deadline and I was excited to get on my knees and have an answer, a feeling, a desire to keep reading and learning more about the Savior. I knelt down by my bed and prayed knowing that promise to me would be upheld by God. I felt like I was talking to an empty room. I stayed on my knees for a long period of time waiting. Waiting to feel the happiness and joy that I got when I would play bassoon or go motorcycle riding or when I would finish a big project or when I would visit with the WW2 vets in the ward… I waited in a dimly lit room for an answer. After hours passed, I felt so sheepish for getting off my knees and awkwardly crawled into bed just like every other night after I pray. Maybe I’ll get a real answer at the youth conference?
It took me two months to finish reading the book again. Same thing that night but I didn’t wait as long on my knees before getting into bed because I had accepted that I would probably get an answer later on. I finished it again for a third time the day before the big Stake Youth Conference and I was thrilled to go have my first real spiritual experience involving the church. On arrival, everybody was informed that they wouldn’t be able to participate in any activities until they finished reading. I was one of only a few kids out of the hundreds in attendance that was able to participate in anything from the first day. The second day passed and at the end there was still a huge amount of people reading at dinner so they could get started with the fun stuff. The third day was coming to a close and most of the youth had finished by that time. Now came the final testimony meeting. I did let people know that I had finished reading; however, our bishop was the only person I actually told that I read it cover to cover three times. I sat next to him as we listened to some spiritual lessons. Now was the time for whoever wanted to get up to bear their testimony about the church and about how they felt about The Book of Mormon. The bishop nudged me, but I stayed sitting and somebody else got up. When they finished, another nudge… I stayed in place. He put his arm around me and whispered “are you going to bear testimony?” My reply “I don’t feel it.” He kissed me on the head and just gave a little squeeze with his arm around me.
I didn’t feel anything but emptiness and disappointment after that week. “I’m a good kid, I do what I’m supposed to and I go the extra mile any chance I get. Why can’t I just feel like this is all true? Why can’t I even just think that this is true?” were the thoughts that plagued me. I wanted to share my experience with the family but how could I tell the people I loved that I didn’t think the same way they did? So I bottled it up and just let it pass. I’ll just keep doing what I’ve always been doing. It isn’t hurting anybody but me and I would rather go through this pain silently than break my family’s heart by telling them the truth.
This is not the second event but I think it’s an important experience I went through to help you know what’s in my mind. I was accepted to BYU and went for a year before receiving my mission call to California. I don’t know how many people I spoke with but many of my companions would get so frustrated after a chat on a person’s doorstep. My companions would be so easily bothered because they “knew” they had the ultimate truth about God and these people were not accepting it. The people we spoke with would tell us they weren’t interested, that they thought their church was true, that they thought Mormons were weird, or a myriad of other reasons they didn’t want to continue conversing with us. When we would leave a home because the people were happy with their religion, my heart ached! I came across many people that would tell me they felt good about their church and I wanted to feel that same feeling about mine. I went on my mission because it was what I was supposed to do and because regardless of what I thought, I knew many people of the LDS faith were extremely happy with the doctrines and maybe I could teach those doctrines to others so they could feel that same happiness. Not the happiness I felt, but the happiness that I’ve seen in my family and friends. I never lied in a testimony while I was teaching. I would bear testimony of what I did know: that the doctrines make sense and that the plan of happiness can help them feel better about the questions they had in life if they accepted it.
The second and pivotal event came at age 24 I had been married for over two years to a beautiful wife. I had been lying to her for our entire marriage. I continued pretending like I believed everything and eventually I had a small conversation with her about not attending church one day. Because I had been doing everything right my whole life, I wanted to do an experiment by skipping church to see if I felt like something was missing. That was a short conversation when she looked at me like I was possessed. When other circumstances led to our divorce I was crushed because I did love her with all my heart. People told me to go get some counseling to help with the pain. Knowing how much love my bishop had for me, that he was there for me through my first tough time and didn’t pressure me, he was a psychiatrist that I really trusted to help me. I was scared to go the first time but the first thing he did was give me a big hug. We sat down and before I had a chance to say anything he told me something very important: he loved me. He doesn’t care what I’ve done or what I think or if I was gay or straight or atheist or democratic. He loved me and wanted to help me be at peace with myself. For the first time in my life I really felt like I was with somebody I could open up to. He has the same desire to help me become myself, just like I have the strong desire to help people see better through my profession. It was during these sessions that I opened up to him about my experiences and my feelings about the church. He bore testimony that he does feel like the church is true but he can comprehend that I might not. We spoke for hours about childhood repression and how I have an overwhelming desire to make others happy, even if it involves lying to them about my true feelings. We discussed that it is okay for me to feel like the church might not be true and that the only way I could know was to really find out for myself, with no outside influence. We agreed that it would probably be best if I moved away from Utah to really become my own version of Eric.
Just a few weeks later I moved to California. I went to church for a few weeks, became friends with some of the folks in the singles congregation and was attempting to independently find out whether or not this was something I wanted in my life. I felt like the church was a good social outlet and it was a good group of people but I didn’t have any different feelings about God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith or anybody else. One Sunday I decided not to go to church. Instead I went for a 30 mile bike ride along the coast. The next Sunday I bought a surf board and tried learning to surf. I didn’t feel like anything was missing. I was actually feeling very good about myself and my self-esteem started to skyrocket because I was actually doing everything for myself without the influence of family or friends. For the first time I honestly felt at peace in my mind and heart.
I haven’t returned to church because I haven’t felt like I should. I’m still the same good person I’ve always been. In fact I’m betting my career and going into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt in order to open my own business that I can truly make a difference for people needing glasses by opening a shop without the corruption of salespeople or insurance companies. I’m living my life the way that is best for me.
There may be a day when I have an urge to go back to church but I’m not going to do it because of the pressure from others. I think the church is not true because I’ve always been promised that if I really wanted to know with an honest heart, I would be told or have a feeling or get a sense that it was even a possibility. That never happened but if there is a God and he has a bigger plan that involves me going through these trials only to come to a knowledge later in life, I will be accepting of that.
For now, I’m following what feels right for me. I apologize if you feel any shame because of some of the things your brother and son has done or said but please remember that ultimately I need to do what’s right for me. Unlike the original article (edit, originally had a FB link but can't in this sub) posted by Millar and like many people that leave the church I’m not doing it because I want to have fun sinning. I’m doing it because I never believed in it and I’m going to be true to myself. Some of the sinful things are fun and like Millar said, “Whether it is money, food, sex, drugs, alcohol or something else, the result is the same. There’s a time, purpose and place for all of these things. And used in the right context or time, each one of these things has its merit.” My definition of a time, purpose and place for these things might greatly differ from your definition. I might do or say or post things that you might feel are wrong but I’m living according to my own moral code. I’m living my own version of a good life even if it doesn’t correlate exactly with what you think is good. I don’t push you to leave the church because I don’t believe in it, please in return have that same respect for the difference between our beliefs.
I love you and your families with all my heart. I’m sorry if this disappoints you but I thank you for being understanding. Similar to Millar, it is very scary to open up this way but ultimately this is my testimony in what I believe and I’ve felt like I should share this with you for quite some time.
Thank you for reading. As stated before, this letter is to help those in a similar situation to have the courage to stand up for themselves and live the life they feel is right without bending to the pressure of what their family deems right. Religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation or even something as simple as the expectation to study a certain subject in school; do what's right for yourself and humanity.
Most of my life in the church I have had questions and doubts. My faith transition was a very long journey, not an overnight experience after reading certain pieces of anti material like for some people. Every question or doubt I had I would lean into and try to build a framework to make the answer work. I have even joked that during my mission I was a hobby apologist of sorts, always willing to tackle the tough stuff people I taught would bring up.
Cracks in my framework began to show up overtime. Two things were the final straw for my testimony. The first was having children and considering the truthfulness with regards to what I would teach them and wanting to make sure I was right. The second was when my wife came to me and opened up about some of her faith struggles. With one final deep dive into the issues with her we both realized we needed to reevaluate our beliefs.
There were a always a few questions I had as a believing member but I put them off and just told myself I'd figure it out later. While in my late teens my mother said some thing odd like, well the Mormon church is a cult by definition, but that's ok this is God's plan. I'm not even sure what was brought up to make her say that. I had seen and read a few whispers of what the temple rituals were like but I never allowed myself to look into it deeper. Even to the point were I did not want to take the temple prep classes before getting married. I figured that it was taken out of context or fabricated "anti mormon" content. To my uncomfortable disappointment I discovered that it was all true. The naked anointing, the handshakes, the Adam and Eve story as fact, the Masonic clothing, the secret names, it was exactly what I feared. I never returned to the temple but I did my best to stay in the church for my family for five more years. I was the Relief Society secretary for awhile until I found out how much the presidency gossiped and withheld food orders from members simply for not liking them personally. I went to one of the church's entrepreneur business classes but it was so ridged and focused on paying tithing I could not go back to those. My activity was less and less until I had my daughter. And I knew almost instantly that I would never set foot in a Mormon church again. How could I force onto her the shame I've held onto my whole life? This perfect little girl was my responsibility, my body grew her, gave her life. If there was some divine power out there it was female. I prayed to a Heavenly Mother just one time, please please help me! Is this church true or not? I have to know, I have to know now. And the feeling I got was that She said no. No it's not true, and I'm you, I'm your daughter, and I'm love. I gave my daughter a baby blessing a few months later.
I left the Mormon church because I was regularly treated unfairly, and they couldn't explain the inconsistencies in their religious texts. My peers would make up lies about me, like I was violent towards them in some way, or that I said cruel things that I would never say, and my leaders never tried to help. The last chance I gave the church was my last year at camp. I love camping more than I hate being surrounded by my Mormon teenage peers. Someone claimed I threatened to light the forest on fire, and I absolutely love nature, I would never hurt it. That and some other lies, got me kicked out of the one thing I tolerated my peers for. I don't understand why my peers would make up such blasphemy about me, and why the leaders didn't care enough to actually talk to the people I was talking to before kicking me out. And on my way out, they kept on lying to me, saying they loved me and other bullshit, acting as if I'm an idiot. I may be autistic, but I am absolutely not an idiot, I know when I'm being lied to.
I was physically in, mentally out for several years, as I'd found too much wrong with the church, and it eroded my belief in the church as I found more people who were basing their own faith and identity on it. I was willing to overlook things like inconsistencies, especially when I would look at the writings of people like Hugh Nibley. They knew more than I did, so who was I to argue? They were able to square the circle and so should I.
Ultimately, I was willing to stay on the records of the church for my kids' sake. But the thing that broke my shelf was the treatment of and attitude regarding LGBTQ+ people. I found it reprehensible that apostles would incite hatred like Holland did with his now-infamous "musket fire" talk at BYU. And when I learned that BYU had carried out conversion therapy during Oaks' tenure as president—and that he blatantly lied about it—I knew I had to leave. I had planned to stay on the records of the church for the sake of my kids, but I realized that day that I could be a better example to them by maintaining my integrity and leaving the church for good.
My reasons for leaving the church are most succinctly explained this way: I finally concluded that it was not what it claimed to be, and that the nature of its teachings and their consequences was such that it would require a deep betrayal of my own conscience, given my personally held values, to continue affiliating myself with it.
What led me to that conclusion? Many, many observations throughout my life that can be summarized as fitting into one of the following categories:
1. The manner in which the church promotes its message is deeply inconsistent with one of the most important tenants that it claims to care so much about - truth. This is evident in the way it obfuscates facts about its history. It is evident in the fact that it so heavily and consistently encourages people to actively avoid both critics of the church and their criticisms. It is evident in the intellectually dishonest ways of thinking that it encourages its members to use when they do encounter facts that shine a poor light on the church's claims (The book of Abraham is a standout case). It is evident in the fact that the methods that it urges people to use to determine whether the church is true are ones that leave them extremely vulnerable to the cognitive biases and blind-spots that human beings are prone to, placing them in a mindset wherein they can be easily manipulated or mislead by bad evidence and emotional appeals. It is evident in the dishonest way that the motives, character, intellectual and spiritual capacities, and the condition of life enjoyed by those who leave the church, and especially those who criticize it, are portrayed within the church. It is evident in the fear that plays such a large, though unacknowledged, part in encouraging people to not doubt, to not question, and to never, ever, leave.
Ironically, the manner in which the church promotes its message strikes me as remarkably consistent with the manner in which it says that Lucifer intended to ensure, should he be chosen to represent God on the earth (in place of Jesus) that not one soul would be lost (The Pearl of Great Price: Moses 4:1), namely by suppressing a person's ability to exercise their free will. The church does this by using misinformation, bad philosophy passed as wisdom, and inappropriate, coercive psychological pressures, to control the membership's exposure to and interpretation of any information relevant to the question of the church's truthfulness, and it rationalizes doing so in the same way - that it is necessary to save them.
2. The church's claims about the world and its place in it are not consistent with the facts. Many of the teachings of the church amount to claims such as these - that thanks to things like the "Gift of the Holy Ghost" and the priesthood authority of God one should find (indeed - it has been explicitly claimed that one does find) that the teachings of this church, and its leaders and members, are more moral, more discerning, and more prescient, and that the membership enjoys more success in its endeavors and more miracles, in short - that within this church one should and does see more of the "hand of God" than one can find anywhere else in the world. Many members will claim that they do see precisely more of such things within the church than without, while others will insist that the church makes no such claims in the first place. To the latter I stand ready to reply with many examples, to the former I must simply explain that when I contrast the teachings and experiences found within this church with those to be found without it, I find no substantial difference in manifestations of the "hand of God". Rather, I find evidence that in many ways it has lagged behind the curve of positive changes in societal views and standards on some very important matters (homosexuality and the equality of blacks for example), both comparatively to some other religions and those devils - "atheists". Furthermore, I do not find adequate evidence of the "hand of God" more generally, in the sense of some otherworldly power and source of knowledge, and this despite the fact that I have had many of the kinds of spiritual experiences that form the pillars of faith for most other people, including seeming miracles. The difference between they and I being, in my view, that I have been willing to really consider alternative explanations for those experiences, which brings us to the next point.
3. All that I have learned, experienced, and observed throughout my life makes far more sense when explained by a vision of our (humanities) origin, destiny, and purpose, that only becomes available when one rejects, not only the claim that this church is true, but the claim that there is a God. It's a better fit with everything we know about the history and mechanisms of the universe and life on this planet. It's a better fit with everything we know about the religious history of Humanity, including how this and so many other religions speak about themselves and each other, including their claims to miracles and their conflicting claims on truth. It's a better fit with the way that these religions promote faith within their ranks (Mormon's certainly aren't the only one's who do those things I spoke about in item 1). It's a better fit with what we have learned about the deficiencies in peoples perceptions and intuitions. It's a better fit with everything we know about how credulous human beings are. It's even a better fit with the demands of rigorous philosophy.
Of all the above points, the most important to my personal journey are captured in item 1 for the simple reason that most of those things were observable from within the bubble of the church and were my first clues that something was amiss. They are also the source of those ways in which myself and many others have been personally harmed by our time under the church's influence. To believe an incorrect idea will not always result in harm, and not all who embrace an incorrect idea, like the claim that this church is true, will experience an internal conflict in doing so, but I and many others have experienced the “persuasions” of the church as what they are revealed to fundamentally be when viewed through a lense that encompasses a much wider view of the world and all that is in it - coercive manipulations that caused us to do psychological harm to ourselves in order to conform to the church’s picture of how a “good” person should act, think, and feel, and in my case at least it caused me to do psychological harm to myself in order to believe against the dictates of a truer voice inside.
When I first came out to my family about my decision to leave it was on the heals of having spent a great deal of time writing out my thoughts and observations, both for the purpose of sorting them out and examining them, and for the purpose of creating a document whith which I could explain those thoughts to others. In the end, it was a book-length endeavor. Here is one sample from that document which conveys something of what the experience was like for me on an emotional level:
"The question of belief is one which I always took very seriously. I struggled to attain it earlier in my life, and doing so was its own journey involving deep introspection, questioning, and courage, but when I did, finally kneeling down and asking to be laden with the heaviest burdens (a reference to the parable “The Three Metamorphosis”, in "Thus Spoke Zarathustra", by Friedrich Nietzsche), taking from them an assurance that I might be found worthy, those efforts, and my expressions of belief were all sincerely meant, for they were expressions of my deep desires to do good and conform myself to whatever is most true.
I have likewise struggled to depart from belief, fearing and trembling as I went – fearing that I was betraying my deepest desire to be on the side of Truth, fearing to put off my camel's burden and chance being found unworthy. My journey out of belief has required as much faith and courage from me as my previous journey into it. Whereas before I needed to learn to trust another’s guidance, with this journey I have had to learn to trust – to have faith – in myself; to have faith in both my whole heart and my whole mind.
In the Bible we read this oft expressed notion in religion: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). There is a worthwhile idea that is trying to find expression in this verse, but a common consequence of this teaching, in its many forms, is that it tends to lead the believer to not trust their own mind on certain subjects. They trust the “Book”, and their preacher, but not truly themselves, which is a problem – because our own mind and heart are the one portal through which one _must_ pass to see “God” however one defines that word. Our ability to have faith in God, or any other concept, rests first with our ability to have faith in ourselves – in our ability to correctly understand whatever experience could lead us to such belief… or away from it. Though my former faith in the LDS church was a sincere expression of my deepest desires to find “God”, maintaining that belief was something that required me to blind my own eyes, ignoring a whole category of impressions from both my mind and heart, and to contort my soul into unnatural postures within a mold set before me, not by my own choosing, but someone else’s. I can no longer do it. The light that my eyes see is too bright for me to ignore any longer, and my soul aches."
There is, of course, much more that I could say. But, this does a fairly good job of capturing a birds-eye view of at least the character of my intellectual, spiritual, and emotional journey. The details would take far too long to explain here.
My journey out of the LDS church started with science. I have always had a deep fascination and love for good science, including watching science programs, avid reading, and visiting scores of science museums (even in Peru). Science is the best method for determining truth, as it is evidence based, reproducible, peer reviewed, works to control bias, and has brought us the marvels of the modern age.
I was born-in-the-covenant, four years of seminary, returned missionary to England, B.S. and M.Ed. degrees from BYU where I was Young Women President twice, married in the Provo temple, multiple Relief Society, Primary, and Young Women Presidencies amongst a myriad of other callings, and true-believing LDS member, obedient, and never rebelling.
Beginning in seminary and throughout the years, I was taught that “someday science will find proof for the Book of Mormon”, and so I put it on a shelf and waited. However, as science progressed, my dissonance grew. After watching a dozen archaeology shows on PBS where nothing in the Book of Mormon was ever mentioned, I called a faithful BYU science professor and asked if there was any archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, and how did he handle the dissonance between science and religion? I could tell by his carefully worded responses that there were major problems in the LDS narrative.
That started my reading frenzy through about 100 science and religion books in about 6 months. It became undeniably clear that science proved the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham to be fakes, and that Church history continues to be whitewashed, e.g., Joseph’s magic stone and face-in-the-hat translation, his marrying 14 year olds and polyandry with married women, multiple contradictory versions of the First Vision, superstitious witnesses, fabricated priesthood, and more.
In many conversations with apologists and scientists, I have yet to see any credible scientific evidence of Book of Mormon civilizations. These are not events that occurred in the realm of the metaphysical, as these civilizations supposedly took place in the real world, and as such, there would be evidence to support these claims, yet there is none.
If the LDS church were what it claims to be, there would be scientifically sourced evidence for:
- Nephite/Lamanite civilizations numbering in the millions, including ruins of Book of Mormon cities
- Lamanites, including Semitic DNA in pre-Columbian Western Hemisphere
- Nephite artifacts in Western Hemisphere (if the BoM happened in Mesoamerica, why the "inspired" Indian Placement program in North America?)
- Linguistic evidence of Hebrew or Reformed Egyptian in the Western Hemisphere
- Pollen grains of wheat, barley, and flax in Western Hemisphere during BofM times, along with silk
- Slag heaps of pre-Columbian steel making and other metallurgical evidence
- Horse, elephant, and cattle evidence during BoM times
- Evidence for the global Noachian flood, Tower of Babel, and the Exodus out of Egypt
- Egyptologists would accept the veracity of the Book of Abraham translation
Since none of this evidence exists, I then did research on the brain, belief, and spiritual experiences and testimonies, and science again explained how these experiences occurred within a person’s own brain, without association to outside reality, e.g. Religous Tolerance.
Indeed, all humankind has spiritual experiences and feelings, believing their own mutually exclusive faith is true, which is an impossibility. I learned that spiritual experiences and feelings are unreliable and insufficient as valid tests of truth. As stated by Carl Sagan, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.
My testimony is based on evidence, facts, and historical research, and I know the church is not true, Joseph Smith was not a prophet, and The Book of Mormon is not the word of God. My integrity demanded that I no longer participate, and I resigned.
I was born and raised in a devout Mormon home but questioned it from a very early age. The first incident I recall that caused me confusion happened in grade school. Growing up in Portland, Oregon during the 80’s, I was the only Mormon kid in my grade. Somehow, one of my classmates learned that I came from a Mormon family and posed the following question to me: “How many moms do you have?” He was clearly making fun of me, but I didn’t have even the slightest idea of what he was talking about.
Later, I asked my dad what this kid was talking about and got the following response: “Well, that’s something people in the church did a long time ago and there was a time and a place for it, but we don’t do it anymore. Don’t worry about it right now, you’re too young to understand, but someday you will.” His words not only left me unsatisfied, but even more confused and troubled. It made no sense to me at all that such a thing would ever be a good idea and the whole thing just seemed very odd to begin with.
The next few incidents took place as an adolescent. The first was in deacon’s quorum. Here’s how that conversation went:
Me: “Who made God?”
Deacon’s Quorum President: “His father.”
Me: “Who made him?”
Deacon’s Quorum President: “His father.”
Me: “Who made him?”
Deacon’s Quorum President: “His father.”
Me: “Then who was the first father?”
Deacon’s Quorum President: “There are some things we will never understand in this life.”
His answers sounded very familiar and they were just as unsatisfying as my dad’s. I began to wonder if and when I would ever understand any of these things that made absolutely no sense to me at all. This, combined with my utter dread of Sundays which meant 3 hours of sheer boredom in scratchy clothes, no playing with friends (my parents very strictly observed the Sabbath), and then family home evening (my dad worked nights during the week so we did it on Sunday) left me feeling pretty unenthusiastic about Mormonism. And then came the big one.
My dad told me about the pre-existence war in heaven and how people who were less valiant in the war had darker skin on earth. I had already suspected some potential racist leanings in our family when my dad forbade us from watching the show Good Times, but this was on a whole new level and I just wasn’t buying it. Shortly after this conversation, I sat down with both my parents and told them I did not believe in Mormonism and felt that I should not have to participate in it. My dad informed me that it was his duty to God to see to it that I did participate until I was 18 at which time I was free to do as I pleased. He said the conversation was now over. This caused serious conflict between us that continues to this day. I had my name removed in 1993 at age 19 after my dad continued sending home teachers to my apartment. He said this was better than remaining a member since I didn’t want to keep the commandments of the church and that God would go easier on me later. I got a letter from the church saying they regretted my decision and that I had 30 days to change my mind. I never did.
Due to my dad’s unwillingness to even consider what I had to say, I felt both dismissed and frustrated which was the perfect recipe for some good old fashioned adolescent rebellion. I chose an identity that was the polar opposite of what Mormonism sanctioned. It took me about 5 years before I realized that I had based my entire identity on a reaction which led me down some paths that started out both fun and exciting but ended much less so.
I found myself in a place of existential angst, feeling pretty alone in the world and started thinking about all the big questions (i.e. what is the meaning of life?). I decided I needed to look into Mormonism again to see why my parents (they were both converts who met at a church dance) joined. This was in 1995 when there was no internet so I went to the public library and found titles like Early Mormonism and the Magic Worldview by D. Michael Quinn and Wife No. 19 by Ann-Eliza Young. Needless to say, these books shocked me and just confirmed my original doubts about Mormonism.
Now I was in a position of certainty about what I did not believe but was uncertain about what I did believe. Due to the beautiful complexity I saw in the natural world, I believed there was a God but I had major problems with religion. Nonetheless, I looked into numerous different religions anyway just to see what was out there. Nothing really impressed me so I decided to read the Bible on my own with an open mind in order to see what I thought it meant rather than what someone else thought it meant. I was totally blown away by what I read. Several Old Testament books (Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, etc.) were very interesting and contained pretty deep wisdom that applied to me right where I was even though it was written thousands of years ago. In fact, the book of Ecclesiastes in particular very much reminded me of punk rock icon Henry Rollins, whom I had become a huge fan of.
In the New Testament, I was impressed with many things including Jesus' condemnation of the religious leaders of his day who frankly sounded very much like most of the Mormons (there were a few exceptions) I had grown up under. It was so refreshing to read that Jesus was not about religion! The way he treated people was amazing and after studying his life it seems highly unlikely to me that he was trying to start a new religion. There were also some passages about false prophets that seemed to be describing someone very much like Joseph Smith which I found worthy of note.
So, I concluded that Jesus was the real deal but that human beings had messed things up with religion. Thankfully, people came into my life who were not about religion, but rather were about relationship (Jesus' real message) and actually demonstrated the love of Christ (of course, not perfectly) in a way that was both transformative and healing. It took me awhile to trust they were for real but eventually I came around. My study of the Bible continued and as I came to understand the stunningly beautiful message of Jesus, who he really is and what he really came for, I learned just how much of a counterfeit gospel Mormonism really offered. A few years later, I began reading some books on counseling which deeply intrigued me.
There was something in me that hungered for a deeper knowledge of the human psyche and the problem of suffering. My interest grew and before I knew it, I was taking classes and writing papers. Little did I know that graduate school would be as personally disruptive as it was, especially in light of the fact that I had just gotten married a few weeks before my first class, not to mention moving to another state. The school I went to has the philosophy that counselors cannot be truly effective unless they have done their own deep personal work which has a major emphasis throughout the program. The phrase often heard there is, “You can’t help anyone go any further than you’re willing to go yourself.”
My study of Mormonism and spiritual abuse has also continued over the years. The fact is that the problems experienced by people in Mormonism are happening to people everywhere in all kinds of religious groups (non-religious groups too). It’s a difficult reality for many that needs more attention as well as more support. My hope is to be a part of both.
Since graduation I have been enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest with my two kids. I’ve attended numerous ex-mormon gatherings and events over the years and thoroughly enjoy conversation with those who have the courage to follow their convictions regardless of the price which is all too often quite high. As a non-religious follower of Jesus, I am usually in the minority at many of these functions, but hanging out among folks of differing perspectives is one of my favorite past times. I love it in much the same way that I love the works of people like Friedrich Nietzsche, who challenge me to examine what I really believe and force me to ask whether or not I am merely using God as a way to avoid facing unpleasant truths.
For more information visit: CauthersCounseling.com
I didn't ;)
(More info soon)
I suffered from severe scrupulosity (religious OCD) and felt I was constantly a sinner. I never realized that the Church membership made up less than 0.2% of the world population, and the amount of active believers was far less than that. In my late 20s, I began reading the Church’s “Gospel Topics Essays”, and quickly began feeling uneasy with the history of the Church. I spent 5 years reading everything I could about the history of the Church, Joseph Smith, and The Book of Mormon.
I quickly realized the narrative taught in the Church is far from truthful, and doesn’t match the historical or scientific record.
The Book of Mormon isn’t a historical account, it’s filled with anachronism.The Book of Abraham is a sham translation. For years I painfully tried to make the church work in my life and I played mental gymnastics to silence my doubts.
This lead to depression- it’s difficult to pretend to believe something you think is hurtful, especially when you fear losing your wife and children if you decide to leave the church. The Church has an undeniable history of racism and sexism. The Church has >100 Billion in assets, and gives an infinitesimally small portion to the poor. I refuse to let my children be forced down one path, and want them to seek truth without undue pressure or influence. The leaders of the church couldn’t answer my questions and told me to keep believing.
I made the decision to leave and haven’t looked back. There have been new challenges with leaving, but being able to be honest with myself has created a new found peace. I’m living in the here and now, and not living out of fear. Having the courage to break the generational Mormon chain is difficult, but allows for growth, happiness and authenticity. As a physician I’ve been trained to research and investigate, to seek truth from reliable sources. I also believe in faith, hope, honesty, transparency, justice and truth. I’m an Ex-Mormon.
I attended University High School in Irvine, California. In addition to being one of the best high schools in the country, it also has one of the best Deaf & Hard of Hearing mainstream programs in the country. Why am I telling you this? Because I lived 33 miles away in La Mirada, California and I would drive at least 66-80 miles a day round trip in California rush hour traffic. Okay, great, right? Well...guess who had two thumbs and woke up at 4am just about every morning just so that he could make it on time to early morning Seminary 33 miles away in Irvine? This guy.
I was a very successful missionary who baptized close to a dozen people (rare for ASL missions), including families. I asked to stay longer in the field and was granted another transfer. I was a District Leader both in the MTC and in the field (highest you can really go as an ASL missionary) who achieved the President's Mastery Program (intense Gospel / Scripture study and memorization).
I just wanted the truth. After learning disturbing facts and information about Joseph Smith and Mormon history in 2012, I wanted answers to help resolve my doubts. I spent a lot of time trying to get answers from apologists. To my surprise, their "faithful answers" only made things worse and introduced me to even more disturbing questions and problems that I had never heard of before.
Contrary to what apologists say about me, I didn't decide one day to write the CES Letter and put it out there on the internet to "destroy tender Mormon testimonies." All of my work has been from a defensive position; not an offensive position.
The CES Director approached me first. He asked me to share my questions and concerns with him. Seeing a glimmer of hope that he might have official answers that were better than the unofficial Mormon apologetic crap I was frustrated with, I took his offer seriously. I wrote a letter to him. I emailed it to him. He read it and stated that it was "very well-written" and that he would give me a response. Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months, and months turned to years. I never heard back from him again.
Prior to sending off the letter to the CES Director, I shared my draft in a closed Facebook group as well as on Reddit. I wanted feedback to ensure that it was as accurate as it could be so that I didn't waste the director's time or mine. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a lot of people liked it and started sharing it with family and friends. This is how it started going viral on the internet. Next thing I know, the document is promoted on the home page of MormonThink.com and everything went next level. FairMormon began attacking me and the letter a few months later and I found myself pulled into this current that I never sought or wanted.
When FairMormon started attacking me, they made a lot of false claims and ad hominems about me and the letter. Further, a few mistakes came to my attention that I corrected in the letter. I needed a centralized place to defend myself from FairMormon's attacks as well as to provide the latest update of the letter to ensure that accurate information was floating around. When the LDS Church started releasing its essays, I included the essays in the letter in a spirit of transparency for my readers. This is how cesletter.org was born. My primary motives were for the above reasons. Not because I wanted to destroy Mormonism or any of the similar claims that apologists make up.
As time went on, things just kept blowing up and the letter just kept going more viral. A lot of questions were being asked about the author of the letter and what his motives were. I was invited by John Dehlin of Mormon Stories in the spring of 2014 to come on his podcast and share my story. This was extremely uncomfortable for me and was very much outside my comfort zone but I did it because it needed to be done and I needed to share about the background story of the origins and development of the CES Letter. I needed to share why I wrote it.
As the letter went more viral, I was increasingly slandered and villianized by Mormon apologists trying to make a name for themselves. I started seeing labels like "liar" and "anti-Mormon" being thrown around against my name. It blew my mind. It still does.
In the fall of 2014, I was approached by my Stake President. This began a circus that ultimately ended on April 17, 2016 when I - out of disgust for the LDS Church's truth crisis, censorship, silence, and attempt to slander my name and reputation - excommunicated the LDS Church from my life (resignation). All of this is recorded and documented and no one has to take my word on anything. See cesletter.org/resign.
I did it their way for years. I sought official answers to the LDS Church's truth crisis through official channels. In the end, I've learned for myself that the LDS Church not only does not have answers to its truth crisis but they will attempt to punish you if you openly ask the questions they don't like being asked.
I've set up a nonprofit called CES Letter Foundation under the advice of my attorneys for various reasons. One of them to separate myself legally from the CES Letter for protection. I have been hypocritically attacked by apologists (they accept donations too) for accepting donations despite the fact that all of my work is absolutely free.
After a few years hiatus or retirement of all things Mormonism, I was provoked in 2020 by FairMormon and TITS to come out of retirement and to get back in the CES Letter saddle. I decided to renew my focus and commitment in completing all of the CES Letter related projects and tasks I've wanted to complete.
Before I share my experiences with the church, I want to share an experience I had with the Holy Ghost.
I realize many exmos become atheists and that's part of their path. I will never deny the reality of some power beyond this world. When I was 20, I had an experience that was visceral in nature. It was not a thought or feeling. It was a complete bathing of 'liquid love'; and unconditional love that I never felt before or after this experience. I was in a dream state and my mind began to fill with absolute, complete bright white light, my body felt a fire-like heat that became warmer and warmer until it felt like I would burn alive. A powerful feeling of unconditional love filled my entire being. Somehow, in an instant, I knew this was holy, it was divine. It's not something I can explain. I'm not claiming that I had a visitation of any with my natural eyes in my bedroom. I'm letting readers know that I will never be able nor do I want to deny that experience. The church is not God. I don't believe any leader or member really understands God. After that, I knew this was more than emotionalism, more than elevation theory. At the same time, I believe that many or most of my LDS confirmations were emotional, perhaps because I was reading or hearing about things of God or goodness/love. I used to generalize that because I got a good feeling from reading scripture or hearing a talk, it meant 'the church was true'. Many good and true principles were taught in the LDS Church but does that mean that the foundational claims, deception, false doctrines, and self-protective stances of top leaders are all good? I don't believe so.
This is not about history, deception, bad leadership, etc. Yes, I've seen all of that too.
This is about my experiential learning. We can be told that we're loved by anyone but it's their consistent behaviors and how they relate that form the image of that person and reactions (i.e., judgments, feelings, attitudes, convictions, trust, etc.).
My 'brand experience' (think of a bad hotel experience) was filled with hope and TERROR. When I interact with any company, it's the 'customer contact points' such as assistance with product installation, customer service, billing issues, websites, help with problems, attitudes of employees, and other factors that determine one's attitude and intentions regarding that brand (church, hotel, etc.).
I was a nervous kid as far as I remember but anxiety when to a whole new level in my experiences with the church.
Constant bombardment with the 'amputation gospel' (getting rid of bad parts of me) and avoiding 'sinful' behaviors that were developmentally normal (e.g., masturbation) - these weekly messages about sexual purity and morality in Sunday School, Priesthood meetings, Sacrament Meetings, and turbocharged versions in General Conference from prophets getting these warning messages from God. Everything was a warning. People don't warn unless there's some kind of danger to avoid, some painful experience, or external punishment (or loss of important reward). Never in my life before Mormonism did I hear these sexually-obsessed messages of purity tethered to a good living and eternal life. My neurological system, emotions, and beliefs were being formed and informed with messages of danger, Hell, and a God who would not tolerate the smallest of sins. I'd felt lonely and abandoned much of my life and I would do anything to not be alone forever. I didn't want to burn forever and suffer after already suffering. I was determined to live a perfect life and do everything possible.
I learned about confession and that any sexual sin had to be confessed to a Bishop. Like most young boys, I masturbated but I felt extremely guilty, fearful, and ashamed every time. My mind would obsess about how bad this was and that I was now one button push away from God sending me to Hell. I had to confess. The first time I went to the Bishop I engaged in some small talk and then sort of 'oh by the way' mentioned it to him; said it wasn't a problem anymore. He confirmed by asking 'but it's not a problem now' and I said no it's not. What I didn't realize was that I had felt this huge relief known as negative reinforcement, similar to compulsions and addictions providing temporary relief from emotional pain. My emotional pain was not because of some reality, it was painful because of what I was taught about sex, the severe penalties, and the unconscious conclusions I made about the author of these laws and punishments. I was well on my way to a performance-driven sense of self-worth and toxic perfectionism. When I lived well, which was probably most of the time, that didn't matter. What mattered was that I did something 'wrong'. I told myself 'that's the last time' hundreds of times and my self-doubt and self-hate grew deeper with each broken promise. I was drowning in shame and thought I deserved it. This was not just a cognitive process; it was experiential, highly emotional, and triggered stress responses of 'freeze' and 'fawning'. I'd give up and feel discouraged or run to the Bishop hoping he would forgive me. God's forgiveness wasn't a big deal to me, it was the Bishop who had the power as God's agent to act on His behalf.
My mission took anxiety to a whole new level. During the interview before my mission, the Bishop asked me what I wanted to confess. After my obsessive mental review of my past and I told him what I felt was necessary, he asked me- 'is there anything else? Because if you don't confess, your burn up out in the mission field'. That caused a major fight-or-flight reaction. What else did I miss? Maybe I forgot about touching some young woman accidentally on an elevator? I didn't want to burn up with guilt or be unworthy. This was the beginning of OCD - the pathological kind, not the movie kind! When I was in the mission field, I obsessed every day about sin and worthiness. I never felt worthy enough. I never allowed myself to just enjoy, relax, do my best, and be myself. I ruminated about my past to the point that my imagination would kick in and create sins. Some call this 'false memory OCD' but I had no idea I even had OCD and neither did my MP who was hearing monthly confessions (compulsions) that made my OCD worse! I should have been sent home and received help. To me, the church had no right to put young men in this stressful role without the capabilities to support them. I suffered terribly but found some relief in my peers and social bonding.
I came home and my Stake President interviewed me, letting me know I now needed to look for a wife and avoid sexual sin. He said 'now that you've been through the temple, you will be excommunicated for sexual sins' - what a great welcome home! More warnings, fear, and visceral alerts that I was in potential danger. My whole life was now one of avoiding sin, Hell, and the God who had now become a complete TYRANT, TERRORIST, MEAN, DEMANDING, AND INTOLERANT OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR.
I went to a local college for a semester, and dated one young woman outside the church but it was like being caged in some moral behavior bubble and always on guard for avoiding sin. I had to go to BYU and get married if I was to meet a Mormon woman and get sealed in the temple. I had a competition with two roommates who would get married first so they could have sex. We all got married 6 months after the time we met our future wives and all we talked about was sex, like 3 teenagers. We all lost too. Within 7 years we were all divorced because of our ignorance regarding sex, personalities, the hard realities of making a living, and doing this for the wrong reasons.
I think about the impact my decisions have had on my son, his mother, and me. I know I had choices but I can say that I ignored reality. I ignored my OCD problems and didn't even think this was a condition, just a function of my lack of worthiness. My poor little boy. His mom moved back to Utah where she could find another Mormon guy (we lived on the East Coast) and she did. An emotionally and physically abusive priesthood holder with an authoritarian mindset. My son suffered at his hands. The divorce affected him emotionally. I blame myself for all of this. It was always me. I would never ever blame the church, for its harmful cultural norms, and teachings (doctrines). I did everything I was supposed to do; followed top leaders, performed all the rituals, and desperately tried to placate God enough to perhaps let me into His Kingdom someday and not throw me out on earth.
These are some of my experiences with the Mormon brand. Some will blame my OCD and yes, that played some role but let's look at the authoritarian leadership style, the 'always right' hierarchical decisions, the high-control 'systems' like mandatory confession for forgiveness, courts of love, temple marriage in order to be with family, and control over knowledge and learning not approved by First Presidency.
Regardless of what leaders say or tell us about God, these experiences create deeper emotional impressions of who God is, who I am, my worth, and those outside the church. Performance (behaviors), obedience to leaders (past and present), biased views, threats of punishment, and rewards for only a few who can live all the laws of the gospel. Fast forward - after I got divorced, I dated many non-Mormons, trying to find someone to marry but the fear of marrying someone outside the temple never left my subconscious mind so I'd find reasons to break up. I dated some wonderful women I could have married but in my mind, it meant settling for servanthood in eternity, no exaltation, loss of family, and being inferior once again. Never enough. Never.
Today, I'm learning about GRACE. Leaders spoke of grace and claimed grace but it was not a central doctrine in practice - according to my brand experience! What I learned through all of my experiences was legalism. That the atonement made forgiveness possible but that would have to earn the benefits through covenants and a perfect life. The motive in a legalistic system is still fear of not doing enough and making mistakes. Grace is based on behaviors, which is not a free gift. I don't believe grace can change one's choices but the unconditional love of God, if perceived and felt as infinite, genuine love, can cause a heart to be grateful and to want to change from the inside out. Not because of a church or its authority but because Christ came for our sake, knowing we could never be perfect. The heart, mind, and behaviors work together (a theory called cognitive consistency). Legalists want behavioral compliance and 'obedience' is the highest value as I see it. Grace, on the other hand, makes unconditional, unselfish love the highest value and obedience is not to a system; it's not outside-in or in reaction to fear of punishment or hope for reward (external motivation). Grace and love show us who God is, who we are, and that all people have great worth. Faith in Christ is central, not an organization or prophet. If our paradigm of God changes from an authoritarian God to a charitable God, we can see ourselves differently and want to live differently - acting freely and not being compelled. What I'm just starting to see is that infinite atonement means Christ's perfection and sacrifice can cover all sins. Do we have to earn it by complying with all LDS rituals, ordinances, and rules? Or, do we accept grace and do our very best to learn God's natural laws, live them, have patience with our growth, and seek to understand and love all people? Legalism creates fear and hijacks the higher spiritual brain. Grace ought to create gratitude, and hope, and inspire us to reach for our very best life, to be unselfish, and to see that the power of forgiveness rests with Christ, not our works or the church.
Last thought - researchers at BYU Religious Studies Dept. have discovered that legalism hurts one's ability to experience grace and grace is necessary for mental health! Grace leads to mental health, legalism hurts mental health and gets in the way of grace. If only these prophets had received this revelation decades ago and started teaching it. It seems to be the Mormon scholars or other members with backgrounds in social sciences that shed light on the need for new leadership styles, new values, and reconciliation of doctrines that harm (i.e. blood atonement, can't leave the church without going to Hell, etc.).
That was my experiential learning. That's the powerful impact of culture, leadership values, leadership styles, doctrines, abuse of power, control of information, and taking the Lord's name in vain can be.
If you'd like to talk: [email protected]
It's not true: plain & simple.
After watching my husband become a happier, more confident person as he stepped further & further away from the Mormon church, I realized my entire life had been based on a lie. I promptly had an identity crisis and then dedicated the rest of my life to sharing my story, amplifying the voices of others, and telling the world how evil, controlling, and false the Mormon church is.
It occurred to me that I had more integrity than the "Only True" church I had been brought up in, because when I was made aware of their lies & atrocities I refused to be associated with them any longer. I found out that a bishop had been excommunicated for his insistence on ending 1-on-1 interviews between grown men and children. The Gospel Topic Essays told mixed truths after decades of leaving crucial pieces of history out of Sunday School lessons. The temple ordinances changed and members were told not to speak about them despite the trauma that those changes inflicted. I can't even list everything that pushed me to resign, but those are a few of them.
Ultimately, I found that I was a healthier, happier, more empathetic person outside of the Mormon church and I have never looked back. Now I dress the way I want to, I co-own a small tea shop, and I read Tarot. Life is so much better when you get to choose how you live it.
I have a two year technical degree from Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. I work in the ammonia refrigeration industry and hold a national certification in that field.
It does not qualify me as a Book of Mormon scholar. Then again, it does not take a scholar to defeat the Book of Mormon, or the believers and apologists that support it.
Even the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defeat their own scholars by making no official endorsement of any of the contrived "evidence" offered by LDS apologists that infer the Book of Mormon is valid. Any apologist organization of the Church, official or arm chair, hedges their articles and contributions with disclaimers that the opinion stated is that of the author alone.
The hesitant lack of an official endorsement is the worst indictment of all.
The Brethren, as they are sometimes referred to, appeal rather to faith and prayer over real world evidence (or lack thereof) as the ultimate authority to determine the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. In actuality, they really don't have much of a choice. In this they are safe since subjective methods of faith and prayer cannot be scientifically scrutinized.
Which begs the question; why have Book of Mormon apologists in the first place? If the Brethren trump BYU scholars then of what use are BYU scholars? They do serve a purpose. They serve as human shields for the Brethren, running a game of interference when faith and prayer fail. They give new meaning to the term "college try". They can try to bolster the faith of the questioning Saint. "Hey, if those smart college guys believe it, then they must be on to something! Look at all the evidence they have come up with!" At least, they can give the impression of working on the problem.
And a problem it is. There are no Book of Mormon gold plates or reformed Egyptian language in existence from which a comparative analysis can be made. Mormon scholars cannot adequately describe the actual translation method (a generous term when applied to Joseph Smith). Translating by "the gift and power of God" has a much more appealing sound than the method of looking at a magic stone in a hat. Mormon scholars cannot even agree to the geography of where in the Americas the story took place.
Ironically, absent of the most crucial of evidence we are then asked by them to consider their peripheral evidence. Perhaps this works for believers. However, when the need to believe in the Book of Mormon is removed it is easily seen as a product of its time. The fact that it speaks of divinity does not make it divine. When read in context of the 19th century social landscape the Book of Mormon story becomes a melodrama of the era. When compared to verbiage and text of contemporary works the Book of Mormon emerges as an amalgam of political and religious sermon.
It's simple really.
The claim that we were the "only true church on earth" never set well with me growing up. As a young kid, my family used to take road trips across the country, stopping at national parks and historical landmarks along the way. One year, I remember stopping at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee and experiencing a major moment of cognitive dissonance--on one hand, I abhorred racism and systems that excluded others based on their differences, and yet I realized that my own Church had deeply rooted exclusionary beliefs (i.e. "we're the one and only", etc).
This cognitive dissonance would stick with me all the way into my mission, when I was tasked with convincing others that their religious or cultural beliefs were not "true". This never set right with me either, and I probably wasn't the best missionary because of it. I met so many good people from different walks of life and quickly realized, again, how harmful exclusionary beliefs can be.
Upon returning home from my mission in 2014, the Church came out with its infamous November policy targeting LGBTQ+ families. They announced children could not be baptized in these households unless they disavowed the same-sex marriage of their parents. This was soul crushing to me--I had a deep level of empathy for these families, and was once again confronted with the exclusionary policies and beliefs of my own Church. I put this on the shelf, as I had done before, and continued to grapple with my changing perspective.
About a year later in 2015, I had a close family member leave the Church due to historical concerns. History has always been something that I gravitated towards, and Church history was one of the only spaces I believed, at the time, I could truly feel the spirit. I was puzzled and confused why this family member would leave the Church over something I found so inspiring. It also troubled me to see how they were treated by those around me--again, because of exclusionary beliefs.
About three years into my undergraduate studies in college, I decided to take an internship in the Church History Department with the Gospel Topics Essays to confront some of these historical issues head on. I thought (naively) that if I could understand where this family member was coming from, maybe I could bring bring them back into activity. However, it was during this internship that I learned the full, unfiltered history of the Church for the first time. I thought I had known Church History, I studied it extensively in college and throughout my life. I had used Church approved sources and stayed away from "anti-Mormon material". But I began to realize there were certain areas of history that had been withheld from me--critical areas. The full extent of Joseph Smith's polygamy and polyandry rocked my testimony, the full context surrounding the Church's black priesthood ban was tough to swallow, and the more unfiltered history I researched in this position, the more I came to realize how "man-made" (not "God-made") the Church really was. The non-whitewashed version of Church history that I learned as an intern revealed a historical record of LDS leaders creating and sustaining systems of oppression, followed by a concerted effort to distort or shelter this information from its membership. It was at this point I realized I could not continue to support a machine that had harmed so many people in the past, and continued to harm others today. I could not continue to hold up a man-made organization with deep flaws as God's "One True Church." My shelf broke.
I was fortunate to have the sympathetic ear of my spouse, who chose to love me for me, and not merely for my Church membership. We had the opportunity to leave Utah for graduate school, which was enormously helpful for my deconstruction. As part of my Master's Degree in History, I studied the early civil rights movement and the history of the Church without limitations, and wrestled with my ever-evolving new beliefs away from family and the Mormon bubble.
Now I'm coming back to Utah a completely new person. My spouse remains a member and is going on her own unique journey in life, which I find beautiful. While I have not taken my records out of the Church, I have chosen to no longer consider myself a member. My wife and I have enjoyed exploring the world of mixed-faith marriage. It hasn't been easy, but we hope sharing multiple viewpoints with our children will open their minds and give them permission to seek their own meaning in life. There's still a long road to go, and I'm sure it'll get bumpy along the way, but I'm forever grateful for my faith journey--even though it was earth shattering in the beginning, it turned into a beautiful exploration of my self and my new beliefs. I'm now an Educator at a public university, I no longer have limits on who I love or what I am able to learn, and I'm able to create my own meaning and understanding of life--and live it to the fullest.
I would never trade my faith journey for anything--it has truly been a gift.
I resigned from the LDS Church in 1998, while serving as a bishop, after encountering molecular genetics research that convinced me that American Indians are not related to Israelites. This seriously challenged my LDS belief that the Lamanites are among the ancestors of the American Indians. To remain in the church I had to choose one of the following three options.
1. Reject the science,
2. Completely change how I interpreted the Book of Mormon by accepting revisionist apologetic scholarship and at the same time reject countless prophetic statements concerning the Book of Mormon or,
3. Keep my doubts to myself and stop thinking
Neither of these alternatives was palatable to me. I was prepared to have faith in the absence of evidence, but I could not ignore scientific facts or accept frantic LDS apologetics in order to maintain my belief. Below is an account of my departure from the LDS church.
In May 1998 I read an article in the Ensign magazine on the Flood by Donald Parry, a BYU Hebrew scholar with no tertiary scientific training. Parry claimed that faithful Latter-day Saints believe that the Flood was both recent and global in its nature; killing most animal life besides those rescued on the ark. Those who believed anything less, he claimed, misinterpreted the geological evidence. At the time I had been carrying out plant molecular genetics research for about 15 years. Geology wasn’t my specialty but I doubted geological evidence supported a recent deluge as biological evidence certainly didn’t. I began to search on the internet for articles written by LDS scientists about the Flood.
This search was to prove fruitless. I found material written by Mormons on many other scientific topics but after two weeks of searching I could find nothing helpful. Mormon scholars had almost completely avoided the subject. [In response to this lack of informed discussion BYU scientists have recently detailed the considerable biological evidence that does not support a recent global deluge. See Duane E. Jeffery, "Noah’s Flood: Modern Scholarship and Mormon Traditions," Sunstone no. (Issue #134) (October 2004), 27–45.]
During my research I came across a statement published by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. It was a response they sent to Mormons who contacted them to see how the Book of Mormon was helping their research. The statement claimed there was a complete lack of evidence for any pre-Columbian connection between Old and New World civilizations. It said there was no evidence of Old World crops and animals mentioned in the Book of Mormon text, or evidence of metallurgy, horse drawn wheeled vehicles and any Hebraic or Egyptian-like writings in pre-Columbus America.
The force of this statement jolted me. I believed the Book of Mormon was true and that Hebrew civilizations had occurred on the American continent. I firmly believed that there was a connection between the Old and the New World; however, I had not taken the time to seriously consider the science associated with the colonization of the Americas. I had seen several church produced filmstrips that presented archaeological evidence in support of the Book of Mormon and was aware of LDS scholarship that claims strong links between the two worlds. The obvious physical similarity between American Indians and Asians hadn’t escaped me, but I was confident that somewhere in the scientific literature there would be research that supported a Middle Eastern influence. I decided to look for myself for published research that supported Old World migrations to the Americas.
I was troubled to learn during several weeks of study that scientists outside of the sphere of Mormonism see absolutely no connection between ancient American Indian civilizations and the Middle East. The position the Smithsonian had taken was based on substantial volumes of scientific research. Essentially all non-Mormon scientists consider American Indians to be descended from Siberian ancestors who migrated to the Americas over 13-15,000 years ago across a Beringian land bridge. Nowhere was this evidence more starkly revealed than in the newly emerging field of human molecular genetics. My experience with plant molecular genetics made it relatively easy for me to follow this type of research.
In the preceding decade scientists had examined the mitochondrial DNA of about 2000 American Indians scattered across both continents. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to child each generation and can be used to trace female genealogical ties Essentially all of these 2000 individuals had mitochondrial DNA that originated in Asia. In the years since my resignation the number of American Indians tested has grown to in excess of 10,000 and there is still no sign of a Middle Eastern incursion. There was also abundant evidence that Polynesians were descended from Asians and not American Indians. Over a two week period I read several dozen research papers but failed to find anything that supported migration of Jewish people before Columbus. Enough is known about the DNA lineages of Jews and other Middle Eastern groups to be able to distinguishable them from Asian lineages.
I struggled with the complete discrepancy between the research and my understanding of the Book of Mormon. How could Lehi’s descendants have escaped detection? All of the Polynesians I knew in the church in Australia and all Native Americans in the church believed they were blood relatives of Lehi as numerous prophets had told them so. How could God permit all of his Latter-day prophets to teach this belief as if it was a fact when it clearly isn’t true? President Kimball was the prophet during my formative years. He spoke about tens of millions of Lamanites that inhabited the Americas and the islands of the Pacific. Millions of Native American and Polynesian members have patriarchal blessings declaring them to be descended from Manasseh, the tribe to which Lehi belonged. Consequently millions of Mormons believe they are descended from the Lamanites.
I wrestled with the research for two weeks. On the first Sunday evening in August our young family gathered for family prayer and to sing some Primary songs. After we had finished singing one of our favorites, Book of Mormon Stories, I became very troubled. I knew I could never sing that song with my children again because the song perpetrates a lie. I went to bed that night saddened and very confused. When I woke the next morning the conflict in my mind was resolved. During the night my subconscious sorted through my thoughts and emotions of the previous weeks. As much as I wanted the Book of Mormon to be true, I suddenly knew that it wasn’t. It wasn’t true history about real people.
I shared my concerns with my stake president and eventually area leaders. Initially the area leaders questioned the validity of the science and assumed that my interpretations were incorrect. They suggested I speak to Scott Woodward, a BYU professor who they said was an expert in this field. I corresponded with Professor Woodward until I became even more convinced of the seriousness of the situation. In the midst of his lengthy defenses of the Church, Woodward acknowledged that greater than 98% of American Indians came from Asia and that this conflicts with current thinking in the church regarding the whereabouts of the Lamanites today. Woodward confirmed that scientists at BYU had tested over 5000 American Indians from Peru and virtually all of their DNA lineages came from Asia as well. The ancestors of the three major civilizations in the Americas, the Aztecs, Maya and Incas, were essentially all derived from Asia.
It was at this point that I was introduced to Book of Mormon apologetics. In response to troubling scientific research new interpretations of the Book of Mormon narrative have emerged. Most Mormons have thought the narrative sounded hemispheric when it says the original founders fled to a Promised Land “kept…from the knowledge of other nations”. The most widely accepted model of Book of Mormon historicity restricts the Lehite influence to a very small (unknown) region in Mesoamerica. In this model Lehi’s descendant’s are absorbed into large Native American populations that soon dominated (numerically) their civilizations. Nephi or Jacob chose not to mention that the land they arrived in was widely and heavily populated by other native people. American Indians had colonized most corners of the two continents over the previous 13,000 years.
Excruciating mental contortions are required to square the Mesoamerican limited geography model with the Book of Mormon. The New York (real) Hill Cumorah is too far away to fit the Mesoamercian geography so the apologists imagined up another one. Evidently Moroni carried the plates thousands of kilometers from the Mesoamerican Cumorah to the New York Cumorah. Why did Moroni not mention this astounding faith-promoting journey? The narrow neck of land (the book’s most noticeable geographic feature) that separates a western and eastern sea and which took a Nephite a day and a half to cross is also jammed into the Mesoamerican setting. The 200km wide Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico that separates a southern and northern sea is the best that they can come up with. There are dozens of pages of ‘serious’ or ‘careful’ apologetics that attempt to make all of this sound not only reasonable, but the only plausible interpretation of the narrative.
Widely accepted LDS beliefs concerning the scale of the Lehite influence in the Americas are arrogantly swept aside by the Mesoamerican apologists. Hundreds of prophetic declarations (many by Joseph Smith), numerous temple dedicatory prayers and millions of patriarchal blessings declaring familial ties to Lehi are merely leaders being over-inspired. One apologist condescendingly referred to these widely held views as ‘doctrinal overbeliefs’! All of these declarations would have been made in the belief that the Holy Ghost had inspired them. Not according to the apologists. They are just the opinions of men. One is left to wonder what sort of a God would permit all of his Latter-day prophets and his entire church to get it all so wrong and the apologists (who have no authority to speak for the church) to get it so right. Some apologists believe that God has arranged it this way as a test for the most righteous of his children.
In the 12 years that have elapsed since I left the church, there has been an apologetic meltdown in response to the questions raised by the DNA evidence. Hundreds of pages have been written defending the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Every possible limitation of the molecular evidence has been paraded, and numerous reinterpretations of the Book of Mormon text have been proffered. It was the nature of this apologetics that motivated me to write Losing a Lost Tribe which was published by Signature Books in 2004. Since publishing my book I have been attacked because I am a plant geneticist or because I don’t understand population genetics. Many have argued that the case against the Book of Mormon is built almost entirely on its non-scriptural introductory statement that the Lamanites “are the principal ancestors of the American Indians”.
By making it look like the critics are insisting that all American Indians must have Israelite DNA they have deflected attention from the fact that no American Indians have pre-Columbian Israelite DNA. The statement in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon was quietly changed by the church a few years ago and now says that the Lamanites “are among the ancestors of the American Indians”. LDS scholars who actually work in the field of human molecular genetics have now conceded that essentially all American Indians appear to be descended from Asian ancestors who migrated to the New World over 15,000 years ago and that Israelite DNA has not yet been found among their descendants. [See “The Book of Mormon and the Origin of Native Americans from a Maternally Inherited DNA Standpoint” by Ugo A. Perego at http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/Book_of_Mormon_and_DNA.html]
For many faithful Mormons the Mesoamerican apologists have gone too far. Another apologetic movement has emerged over the last few years that argues that the Book of Mormon events took place in North America, exactly where Joseph Smith said they occurred. Rodney Meldrum, a salesman turned ‘DNA researcher’, has been openly critical of BYU apologists who he claims have got the science wrong and conceded too much to the critics. There is now a public war, every bit as vicious as previous battles with the critics, being waged between the Meldrum camp and the BYU Mesoamerican apologists.
The North American (Great Lakes) geography has recently been subjected to a series of apologetic dressings down in Michael Ash’s Mormon Times column ‘Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith’ with apparently no opportunity for Meldrum to respond. However Meldrum appears to be winning the battle for the hearts and minds of numerous Mormons. He is energetic, charismatic and well funded by royalties from his numerous apologetic DVDs and books. He even has Glenn Beck on his side. Meldrum is a young earth creationist, refuses to meddle with the words of prophets and he only uses those parts of the DNA evidence that support his views. His claims of the occurrence of a Middle Eastern DNA lineage (lineage X) in North American Indians are not supported by the evidence, but they are exactly what his audience is hungry to hear. The emergence of Rodney Meldrum was inevitable given the twisted apologetics one has to swallow with the Mesoamerican geography.
The colonization of the New World is best understood in the context of the dispersal of humans in the Old World. Human dispersal from Africa across Eurasia began by about 50,000 years ago. This migration resulted in the widespread colonization of Europe and Asia by 30,000 years ago and culminated with migrations into the Americas about 20-15,000 years ago. [An excellent summary of the scientific view of the colonization of the Americas can be found by searching online for the following article: Goebel et al. 2008 The Late Pleistocene dispersal of modern humans in the Americas. Science 319: 1497-1502.]
New World civilizations arose independently with no significant input from the Old World. The Book of Mormon is clearly the creation of an imaginative 19th century, ethnocentric American mind trying to make sense of a new world. It tells us nothing about the true history of the colonization of the New World. It is frontier speculation attempting to account for the origins of the American Indians within the context of the biblical record. Not surprisingly there are striking similarities between the central plot of the Book of Mormon and Native American origin theories that were widely popular in Joseph Smith’s community.
From my viewpoint on the other side of the world, the apologetic defenses of the Book of Mormon have a provincial Utah ring to them. They sound like the desperate attempts of US-based Mormon scholars trying to preserve a cultural icon, their jobs, and their status in LDS families and communities. Until the leaders of the Mormon Church allow its members to openly question the historicity of the Book of Mormon, as members of the Community of Christ do, there will continue to be an increasing stream of people (especially non-US members) leaving the church. These are people happy to have faith in the absence of evidence, but not in spite of it.
When it comes to evaluating or scrutinizing the LDS church, most LDS members will tell you that the doctrine or church is perfect, but run by imperfect people. While this may sound good in theory to LDS members, it should be a blaring red flag. This is actually a “stop think” method utilized to keep members from thinking critically about the organization and blaming themselves for its (the organization’s) shortcomings.
LDS membership can be distinguished and segregated into two groups: The first group is comprised of the average member, serving in their local vicinity in various capacities and generally trying to do their best to fulfill what has been asked of them and what they believe is right; the second group is what could be considered “upper management”, those at the top of the pyramid dictating the direction of the whole church. This group includes the First Presidency, the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, Seventy and many office positions that keep the church running.
This second group is where I would like to focus and apply my theme of “Do as I say, not as I do”. Though there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of examples of this, today I will only focus on one, which in a way, covers most of the rest: Honesty. To setup this example, let’s establish from the LDS Church’s own Gospel Principles what it means to be dishonest:
"Lying is intentionally deceiving others. Bearing false witness is one form of lying. The Lord gave this commandment to the children of Israel: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" (Exodus 20:16). Jesus also taught this when he was on earth (see Matthew 19:18). There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest. "(“Chapter 31: Honesty,” Gospel Principles, 203)
While I was on my way out of the church in June of 2008, I met twice with my Stake President. In trying to understand my reasons for leaving, he asked me several questions. “Have you been offended?” No. “Do you have any unresolved transgressions or sins?” No. (Side note: These are the typical off hand reasons that LDS members think of when hearing about a member going inactive or falling away. While these reasons may sometimes be the case, it is usually not the norm for stalwart members who leave unexpectedly.) “What is your main concern regarding the church?” My response to this question was the lying and deception to cover up and withhold the full history of Mormon origins from unsuspecting members.
What evidences are there that the LDS “upper management” is knowingly deceiving their members? Apostles themselves have admitted and admonished to not teach the full version of church history. Their reasoning is the whole “milk before meat” mentality. However, the diet of church history is never transitioned to “meat” and members are forever left to subside on “milk”. Church educators for seminary and institute often take it upon themselves to learn the “meat” of church history but when they attempt to share this “meat” with eager students, they are sometimes disciplined, threatened, or even fired.
So while the “upper management” of the church preaches “honesty”, they themselves are failing to be honest under their own definition of the term: “We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth”. Essentially what is taught in seminary, institute, primary, and Sunday school doctrine classes around the globe is a severely biased, watered down, and even modified version of the real events. Michael Quinn, an ex-LDS Historian articulated well this hypocrisy:
“It is . . . my conviction that God desires everyone to enjoy freedom of inquiry and expression without fear, obstruction or intimidation. I find it one of the fundamental ironies of modern Mormonism that the General Authorities, who praise free agency, also do their best to limit free agency's prerequisites--access to information, uninhibited inquiry and freedom of expression.”
The following quotes are excerpts from a discourse given by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1981 to LDS church educators during a conference at Brigham Young University. This clearly depicts the lengths and means that “upper management” is willing to enforce to keep the LDS faithful on a steady diet of “milk” while withholding the more telling and needed “meat”. (source: BYU/Packer-pdf)
"Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer."
“There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful."
"The writer or teacher who has an exaggerated loyalty to the theory that everything must be told is laying a foundation for his own judgment. The Lord made it clear that some things are to be taught selectively and some things are to be given only to those who are worthy.”
"That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith - particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith - places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities. Do not spread disease germs!" (Boyd K. Packer, 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271, emphasis mine)
While it is somewhat understandable why the LDS church is concerned with building faith instead of “destroying” it, the question remains that if the full version of history and events is such that faith would likely not be established when taught plainly, then perhaps it is not a foundation one would want to have faith in to begin with. Notice that Elder Packer’s concerns are not whether truth is being taught, but whether faith is being established. Using this logic, one could freely modify and teach the history of events for any cause to recruit followers, gain power, wealth or whatever it is they are after and feel that the ends justify the means. However in the LDS church’s case, this is in clear contradiction to their own values and creed. Christopher Dawson, a distinguished scholar and author of many cultural history books, stated well the dangers of such hypocrisy: “As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil they set out to destroy.”
When history is modified such that it only paints a positive light for any organization, it is easier for people to get warm fuzzies about it, such that they falsely think they are joining a good cause and fail to recognize or accept all of the skeletons in the closet from both the past and present. They only see and accept what the organization want them to. Unfortunately, when combining this control of information with other subtle means and tactics, the free agency and authentic identity of individuals is literally robbed from them, and their faith misplaced in a fictionalized version of the facts. As Thomas Edison so stated, “for faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction - faith in fiction is a damnable false hope.” Though facts or so often ignored and left out of LDS instruction manuals, they do not cease to exist and can be found and verified to any vigilant seeker of truth.
Teaching a biased, watered down version of history is, in a very real sense, teaching fiction, spun to the benefit of the organization at the expense of the individual. Deception, lies, and cover-up are normally attributes of evil. An organization that preaches one thing but does another is not an organization worthy of loyalty or trust. The leadership of the LDS church is subject to the same commandments that they exact of their membership. Their inability to do so exposes them for the false prophets that they are.
In my youth, before I physically left, I never really developed a "testimony" of the truthfulness of Mormonism and all of the blah, blah, blah that goes with that. However, within the dynamics of my growing up home environment, I did not develop the personal sovereignty, nor the courage, nor even the idea, to say to my Mormon parent, "I don't believe in this, therefor, I am no longer going to pretend by doing the things I am 'supposed' to do there."
Approaching that important male age of 19, I had other plans, big plans, productive plans, ambitious plans, plans of achievement and adventure. Going on a Mission certainly did not align with those plans. More importantly, going on a Mission did not align with the sense of truth and integrity that I had begun to develop. I knew it would be the moment of "separation" from my over-controlling mother, but going on a Mission was absent from my plans. There was no way that I would participate in preparing for and then inflicting the Mormon sales pitch on fellow human beings. To do so would have been trying to sell them on a view of the universe that I did not believe (even to the incomplete extent of what I knew Mormon beliefs were) and in fact a view that I was sick of being force-fed to me.
Another important feature of my awareness was that my Mormon peers were already well into their careers of hypocrisy -- outwardly being the "worthy," upstanding favorite Mormon sons of their full-in, "perfect" Mormon, temple-attending parents, and the favorite sons of the Ward. Yet in reality they were conniving, selfish, cussing, alcohol-sneaking, spoiled assholes. For instance, the church ladies glowed about them, but me, mostly a quiet, good kid, I was generally ignored and not appreciated. The reality of the social structure was apparent to me. It was grace-less, God-less and crass under a thin veneer.
I was attending community college full-time and also working second-shift full-time at a manufacturing job -- both in preparation for my impending departure to a four - year University five hours away when these two events occurred, (I don't recall in which order, but they were within several weeks of each other):
1. One evening when I was at the factory entrance punching the time clock beginning my 2nd shift work, I encountered Brother P______ as he was leaving the building (he might have been the Ward Clerk at the time). I was vaguely aware that Brother P______ worked at the same place in a white collar job. It was odd that he would be exiting the very large building at the same entrance where us hourlies punched the time clock. Regardless, he saw me there and engaged me in conversation. He asked, "Mike, are you going to go on a Mission?" I said, "No, I am not. I am making preparations to go to University ____ in the Fall, study Aerospace Engineering, enter the Air Force through ROTC and go on to fly jets." Brother P______ replied, with a mix of disgust and disappointment, "Well, that's too bad!" The context of my Mormon peers at the time is important. The more socially preferred boys in the local Mormon society had no plans for their future. They had no self-designed or self-determined ambitions. They were merely on the Mormon conveyor belt awaiting their processing into their servitude and then a continued infantilism of outwardly only doing what they were told to do, while inwardly, doing whatever they could get away with.
2. My mother told me that the Bishop would like to have a meeting with me, but told me that she was not aware of the topic of the meeting. Merely out of cordiality, I agreed to the meeting. By this time, I had recognized that the Bishop no longer had any sway of authority over me, as I had previously perceived him to have. At the meeting, after opening chit-chat, the Bishop informed me that he had in front of him, on his desk, my Mission Calling paperwork. This was a bit of a surprise to me, (perhaps that was intended) because, even though I had not stated it, I thought it would have been clear that I had no intention of going on a Mission. At the time, my attendance and participation was approaching zero. I had never really completed Seminary. Today my recollections of that pretense of education or learning is quite spotty, but I certainly was not qualified in that way. However, I figured out that, despite all of the propaganda about preparation, all that was really required was a body temp near 98.6F. Today, I wish that I had somehow already developed some swagger with which to respond to the Bishop. However, "No thank you. I have other plans..." might be all that I could muster.
Mini-Epilogue: Subsequently I earned a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and two advanced degrees later, and I earned the titles "Colonel" and "Captain" in military and civilian aviation careers respectively.
I moved to Seattle, Washington in 2016 to work for Google. The move uprooted me from North Star and the generally Mormon culture. I found an apartment halfway between the office and church and began attending the local single's ward.
I pretty quickly gravitated towards this one friend, and we'd skip sunday school to stay in the lobby and talk about queer things. During these talks I began to wonder why I went from an apparently happy child to an obviously sad adult without anything clearly traumatic to account for it. Maybe I had clinical depression. I should seek out another counselor.
The only other out gay guy in the ward referred me to Josh Weed, who I had heard about but didn't realize was a local therapist. It seemed perfect; a gay Mormon man married to a woman would understand all the intersecting pieces of my life.
And Josh was completely different from my earlier counselors. He immediately had me questioning previous assumptions just because it's what other people wanted or thought. I formed a narrative about my youth that helped explain how I was living a double life, trying to please my parents and community by presenting as the perfect child, while hiding away my attractions and fearing their power.
I would naturally forget to make regular appointments with Josh, and I was feeling good with this new super-power of self-determinism. So our sessions got fewer and further between.
Then out of seemingly nowhere I had a thought... Am I attending church solely to please other people? Do I actually believe any of it?
I decided on what it means for me to "truly believe" something: that whether or not there is evidence, the world and myself only make sense if it is true. So I took this definition and asked myself about everything from Joseph Smith and the Spirit to Jesus and God. What other people did or said wasn't enough. I had to have my own deep conviction or else it wasn't really *my* belief.
And I found myself lacking in everything except the concept of "we don't understand consciousness or free will, so a soul is possible." Everything else, about the gospel, church, and life before or after this earth, it all *could* come from the minds of men. I didn't have any conviction of its truth, so I stopped claiming any belief in it. I refused to conform to expected behavior without sufficiently convincing reason.
I continued to attend church. At first, I tried to "translate" what was being said with religious motivations into more secular advice you might find and agree with outside. And I'd talk with my friend, who also did not believe as much as you would assume given a random sample. But then 2020 hit and church went remote.
After losing my faith, I began to watch YouTube videos by atheists or ex-mormons, which helped me accept and move on from thoughts that maybe it actually was all true and I was just being misled by Satan. I went from "I don't believe, but can see a way it's true and I just don't know it yet. I have nothing against the church." to becoming aware of how similar to a cult the members and leaders often behave.
When church started up in person again, I went back because I was the organist, but I started noticing how people talked and encouraged others to act. It made me uncomfortable for the first time, and I no longer wanted to be associated with things. I didn't want to be seen as implicitly endorsing it by helping out with the music.
I decided to stop going entirely, so I asked to be released from my calling. When the bishop asked me to explain I gave him my reasons and an ultimatum: I will no longer be here after my birthday in two months, so you need to find someone else by then.
It's now been a year since then, and I feel so good and confident now that I'm making my own decisions and taking responsibility for myself.
Many things had troubled me about Mormonism over the years. The first one was the central concept of the infinite and eternal atonement. Christ didn’t just suffer for the sins of the inhabitants of the earth, he suffered for everyone everywhere, in every world throughout the galaxy – the atonement was both infinite and eternal. So, people in other worlds like our earth, would have different scriptures describing an extra-terrestrial named Jesus, who would suffer for the sins of the people, but would never live on their own world. Jesus was sent to our earth because we had, here on our earth, the most cruel people in the galaxy, the only ones that were wicked enough to crucify the sinless Son of God.
I took issue with the infinite and eternal atonement doctrine for several reasons. First, there was the probability aspect. I was already reeling with the improbability of my selection to be born in a special time, a special promised land, to special parents, in the only true religion. I was chosen in the pre-mortal life due to my extreme valiance against incredible odds. The flattery was transparent and did not sit well with me, it seemed too contrived. Now, I had to factor in an astronomical improbability about how this earth was special above all other worlds. It just didn’t work for me. There comes a time for every individual when the story becomes, like the proverbial fisherman’s tale - too tall. I had reached my limit.
Secondly, the people in other worlds would not be able to relate to the story of Jesus, the Jewish culture and Roman rule, or have a chance to visit the Holy Land and see the landscape of history. This was not fair; it just seemed that God’s plan would not put people in other worlds in such a dreary condition. People in other worlds would have their most honored hero an extra-terrestrial and not even part of their civilization. This was nonsensical and offended my intellect. Surely somebody was mistaken. I anxiously awaited clarification – I felt in my heart of hearts that there would come a day when this doctrine would be expounded upon and brought back into the realm of reasonableness. I waited for 30 years for somebody to help me understand this or correct it to no avail.
Another major issue for me was the Mark Hofmann affair. Here was a guy that had easily duped the Lord’s anointed, which was not a big deal, but the part that was very disconcerting was that the documents bought by high-ranking church authorities were being purchased primarily to keep them hidden. Why would they need to do that? Surely the true church has nothing to hide. This made no sense. Something was definitely amiss here; I could feel it in my gut.
I buried these troubling concerns deep inside and tried to keep them suppressed. For some, this can work for a lifetime, but ultimately it did not work for me. These issues and others (polygamy, dark skin curse doctrine, etc.) eventually began to surface and I became increasingly uncomfortable with my core beliefs. The desire to know the truth at whatever cost finally outweighed the desire and need to believe and belong at about age 45. I eagerly began to study. I wrote book reports, I recorded trends and patterns, and I immersed myself in books.
As I studied the realities associated with the so-called ‘restoration’, unfiltered and un-whitewashed for the first time, I recalled the scripted and coached approach to evaluating the Book of Mormon as a boy. Read, study, pray, and ask yourself this question; “Could an uneducated 14-yr old boy have written this book?” Now I found myself taking a parallel approach in objectively evaluating the restoration. I began to ask myself a similar question: Would a loving and benevolent God…:
Choose Joseph Smith, a confessed con man, to restore His gospel?
Tell His prophet (Smith) to have sex with women who were already married?
Threaten His prophet with an angel armed with a sword if he hesitated to recruit additional polygamous/polyandrous partners?
Instruct His prophet that polygamous/polyandrous relationships were to be kept strictly secret, especially from Emma?
Instruct Smith to use a seer stone and peer into a hat to ‘translate’ the golden plates, when the plates were not even in the room?
Instruct Smith to conjure a nonsensical “Egyptian alphabet” to translate the ‘Book of Abraham’ papyri, when the papyri writings were actually ordinary funerary documents having nothing to do with Abraham?
Plant incontrovertible evidence contradicting a worldwide flood, and then require me to literally believe in same?
Plant evidence of artistic and religious peoples living thousands of years before Adam and Eve, yet still expect me to believe that Adam and Eve were the first humans?
Instruct His prophets to adopt a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in regard to its vast financial holdings?
Instruct His prophets to harbor racial prejudice against blacks, and then instruct His prophets to change policy only under extreme duress in 1978?
Intentionally allow thousands of religions to proliferate and fill the earth, and expect me to somehow sift through and find the one and only true one?
Visit the Earth with one calamity after the next and fail to notify His prophet to avoid large scale loss of life among His precious children?
While mathematics and the scientific method cannot be directly applied to measure the likelihood of all the claims and doctrines in Mormonism, it can be applied to some of the tangibles, and I eagerly calculated and evaluated.
In aircraft analysis, methods are employed to establish when the probability of a failure is low enough to be safely ignored, and the lives of the pilots and passengers are not put at significant risk. In my work, I deal with this premise every day and am paid to determine when that probability of failure is low enough to put lives on the line. Well, now I had reached that same threshold in evaluating the cumulative probability that the church was true. I found that it was easily low enough to be safely ignored, that my eternal life was not in jeopardy.
But what was more striking was a conclusion I had not expected. It become blatantly evident, as I stepped back and considered the whole picture, that the God defined by Mormonism was not an entity worthy of my worship, worthy of emulation, or even an entity with whom I would want to associate at any level.
I took a step back and took a hard look at core values and realized I was not supporting what I knew in my heart to be good and correct. I was playing for the wrong team. I found that the definitions of good and evil given to me by Mormonism were lacking and tortuously complicated, even immoral in some instances. I decided that behaviors that enhance life are good and those that diminish life are evil. It is that simple. I found that pious religiosity is the polar opposite of true spirituality and harmony with self and the humanity surrounding me.
I found that the classical concepts of sin and punishment and a capricious God to administer the whole thing is a thinly-veiled ‘Santa Claus for adults’ myth. The sin concept puts one in a state of conflict, which is the opposite of harmony and therefore the antithesis of spirituality. Sin puts one in a servile condition throughout one’s life. The sin concept robs mankind of the opportunity of adopting correct behavior voluntarily and the innate satisfaction derived thereby. Identifying with the positive aspects of life and choosing to embrace life enhancing behavior on a want-to, choose-to basis was a big boost for me. Another huge relief was realizing that the natural man is not an enemy to God, and is not in need of external help to find joy and peace. The ‘rotten to the core’ doctrine is one of the most destructive ideas ever to be introduced to theology, in my opinion.
After I was jolted out of my slumber, I reevaluated my life contribution. Twenty years after I die, what will my children and grandchildren believe my life has stood for? Did I leave them a demon-haunted world and an environment of guilt and shame? Do I want to be remembered for perpetuating illusions and half-truths? Will I have left things better than I found them, or made them worse? Will I be counted among those who believed that mankind is inherently evil, that charity and goodwill are only achieved through the delivery system of religion?
Throughout my life it has been my observation that religious zeal leads to one of two end states. The first end state is an escalation of self-perceived righteousness and arrogance. The religious zealot never intends this to be the end state, but it is inevitable because he values his code of righteous behavior, and by default is compelled to think less of those who cannot attain it. The second end state is a self-deprecating condition as the person realizes he can never measure up, and never will – the standard is too high, and depression ensues. Neither circumstance is healthy or beneficial. I do not want these limited choices for me or my family.
I seriously considered simply setting aside the weird doctrinal baggage and look for the good and continue to believe in some portions of the religion. I asked myself, why not? On the surface this seemed innocuous and perhaps even beneficial. But I found that in addition to the dangers, it is simply not the best approach to long term human happiness and fulfillment. Some Indian tribes, when faced with a difficult decision, would consult the eldest tribal women who would then base the choice on the projected effect of the decision on the sixth generation. The tribe was interested in the long view (sixth generation) and the humanitarian view (asking the opinion of the eldest women).
If I were to remain a member, my descendants, at the sixth generation, would be in high risk groups for:
Depression, use of anti-depressants, and mental illness (Deseret News8 and ABC news9)
Financial woes (keep up with the Jones’, giving up retirement $, etc.)
Becoming victims of fraud, especially affiliation fraud. Having their lives governed by guilt and shame.
Perpetuating this cruelty on my posterity was simply unacceptable. I had to leave and do what I could to stop the chain of maltreatment in the generation of my children. I am happy to report that I have succeeded in that endeavor.
I have found that for every falsehood a person embraces, that person is crippled in proportion to the depth and breadth of the falsehood he embraces. Mormonism has enormous dimensions, and discarding this falsehood has been like adding a supercharger to my life engine. My discernment is sharpened, my energy and motivation are heightened, my human biases are more easily squelched, my mind is open to new ideas, I have shed prejudices and truly feel all humans are created equal, my friendships are more genuine, the world is more beautiful, there is more joy in giving, there is more authentic meaning in living. All this, and I get to choose my own underwear too! Our family financial problems abruptly stopped the day I stopped paying tithing. In a nutshell, leaving the church has lengthened my stride, extended my vision, and lifted my burden. I have never been happier.
I would like to publicly thank those who have had courage to leave the church when there were no support groups and information was sparse, who faced the lonely road and left the tribe in order to be true to self. I remain in awe of your bravery. You know who you are. I hereby publicly apologize for perpetuating the lies and spreading the half-truths found in abundance in Mormonism for 30+ years of my life. I did not check my facts and am guilty of spreading this great falsehood, something I did with zeal. I was a beast of burden for the wrong team. I am truly sorry.
Why, after all these years, would I still be concerned, then, about Mormonism? Why have I not yet come to terms with that distant part of my past and left it behind?
There are several reasons:
First, I am descended from a long line of faithful Mormons. All of my ancestors in every branch of my family, for four, five and six generations, were Mormons. The Mormons and their history are my heritage. It is my only heritage. It is where I come from. None of my Mormon ancestors were great or famous, but I have read their stories, and they were good people. They were faithful, hard working, and deserving of my respect. The history of my family is inevitably intertwined with the history of the Mormons, their migration to Utah and the settlement of the mountain West. I cannot ignore Mormonism and Mormon history without forgetting my past.
Second, my family are still faithful Mormons, almost all, including my parents, my brothers and sisters, my older children, my grandchildren, my nieces and nephews. Their lives are permeated by their Mormon beliefs. Their day-to-day existence is intertwined with the activities of the busywork-making church, their friends are all Mormons, their hopes and fears are Mormon hopes and fears. I cannot ignore Mormonism without ignoring the lives of those I love.
Third, the Mormon church is becoming more prominent and more powerful in our society. In my state (which, unlike Utah, is not thought of as a "Mormon" state) it is now the second-largest religious denomination. Our present U.S. Senator is a devout Mormon. Mormons are occupying influential positions in our state and national governments far out of proportion to their population in the United States. The church has become a mega-wealthy financial enterprise, with billions of dollars worth of money-making businesses and property all over the country - a fact of which most non-Mormons are unaware - with wide-ranging (and usually unseen) influence on many aspects of American life. Its income has been reliably estimated to be millions of dollars per day, not only from its thousands of businesses but also from its faithful members, who are required to donate a minimum of ten percent of their entire income to the church.
The Mormon church boasts of its rapid growth. This growth, in addition to its stance in favor of large families, is because it maintains a large voluntary corps of full-time missionaries who are a well-trained and thoroughly indoctrinated sales force whose sole purpose is to bring more people into the church. Their goal is not to convert, but to enroll, not to enrich lives, but to baptize, not to save sinners' souls, but to enlarge membership rolls. This missionary force is not directed by caring clergymen, but by successful businessmen, because the Mormon missionary effort is a business, and a very successful business, when judged by business standards.
But the ultimate goal of the church, as stated publicly by its early leaders Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (but not mentioned so publicly by more recent Mormon leaders), is to establish the Mormon Kingdom of God in America, and to govern the world as God's appointed representatives. The church is already influential in the making of secular policy, as was proven not so long ago when the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated with decisive help from the Mormon church.
To me, the possibility that the Mormon church might control America is a frightening prospect.
Those are some of the more important reasons why I am still vitally interested in Mormonism and the LDS church.
Mormons will tell you that Mormonism is a wonderful way of life, bringing happiness in this mortal existence and, if we earn it by our faith and obedience, ultimate joy (and "power and dominion") in the next. The promises and hopes it gives to its believers are very attractive and inspiring. Why, then, did I reject that? Here is the story of my own particular journey through (and, eventually, out of) Mormonism.
My Mormon childhood was very happy, with loving and nurturing parents and family. We were "special" because we had the "Gospel," meaning Mormonism. In my small town in southern Idaho we Mormons easily were the dominant social and political group. We felt sorry for those not so fortunate, for whatever reason, that they were not blessed with the gospel. Our lives centered around the church. We had perfect attendance records at all our meetings. We studied our lesson manuals. It was a wonderful life. Wonderful because we had the Gospel, for which we thanked God several times a day, in every prayer and every blessing pronounced over our food.
We Mormon teenagers participated in school activities, of course, with non-Mormons, but we also had our own church-sponsored events, which were just as good, or better. Really good Mormon teenagers did not date non-Mormons, because of the danger of "getting involved seriously" with a non-Mormon, which would lead to the tragedy of a "mixed marriage" which could not be solemnized in the temple, and which would thus ultimately mean the eternal loss of the possibility of entering the highest degree of heaven, the celestial kingdom. None of us dared to risk that.
So my high school sweetheart was a good and faithful Mormon girl. We fell deeply in love and were devoted to each other without risking any immoral physical activity beyond long kisses and hugs (no touching of body skin or of any area below the waist or around her breasts, etc.). When she graduated from high school and I was in my third year at Brigham Young University, we two virgins got married in a beautiful ceremony in the Idaho Falls temple, and started to have babies. We were the ideal young Mormon couple.
I enjoyed my four years at BYU, being surrounded by devout fellow- students and being taught by devout and educated teachers. One professor of geology was also a member of our ward. I was just learning about the age of the earth as most geologists taught it. I asked him one Sunday at church how he reconciled the teachings of his science with the teachings of the church (which said that the earth was created about 6000 years ago). He replied that he had two compartments in his brain: one for geology and one for the gospel. They were entirely separate, and he did not let the one influence the other. This bothered me, but I didn't think more about it.
After my graduation from Brigham Young University I was offered a scholarship at Northwestern University to work on a master's degree. So my young wife and I with our two (at that time) babies moved to Evanston, Illinois, and for the first time in my life I was surrounded by non-Mormons. I was the only Mormon in my university program. This did not intimidate me in the least. I felt that I was intelligent enough, knowledgeable enough about religion, and skillful enough in debating skills (I had been a champion debater in high school) to discuss, defend and promote my religion with anybody. I soon found takers. Since it was no secret that I had graduated from BYU, many of my fellow graduate students had questions about Mormonism. They were friendly questions, but challenging. For the first time in my life I had the opportunity to spread the gospel. It was exhilarating. We had some wonderful discussions. Even my professors were willing to listen, and so I educated my linguistics professor about the Deseret Alphabet and my German literature professor about the similarities between Goethe's worldview and Joseph Smith's.
Some of my fellow students, however, had tracts and other literature about the Mormons which they had obtained from their own churches. They asked me questions that I was unable to answer satisfactorily because they were based on facts I was unfamiliar with. I had never heard about the Danite enforcer gangs, about the Blood Atonement Doctrine or the Adam-God Doctrine. Where did these horrible allegations come from?
I realized that in order for me to defend Mormonism I would have to know what its enemies were saying about it, so that I could be prepared with the proper facts. I had never been an avid student of the history of the church, although I had earned the highest grades in the third year high-school seminary course in church history. I mean, what was there important to know about church history, beyond the story of how Joseph had his visions, got the plates, translated them, and how Satan had persecuted the Saints until they got to Utah? I was more interested in doctrine: the Truth, as taught by the prophets. The Truth, eternal and unchanging.
But now I began to read church history, both the authentic histories published by the church and the awful lies and distortions published by its enemies. How different they were! It was almost as if the authors in each camp were writing about different events. And the university library, where I spent a good deal of time, seemed to have more of the latter than the former.
After one year I got my master's degree in German and accepted a teaching job in Ogden, Utah. We returned to Zion and had our third child.
In Ogden I encountered for the first time the writings of the Mormon fundamentalists, who believe that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were true prophets, but that the church since then - especially since the abandonment of the practice of polygamy - is in apostasy. At the time I was studying the doctrines and history of the church extensively, and it seemed that the fundamentalists had a lot of historical information that was not otherwise available. For instance, they relied heavily on the Journal of Discourses, a multi-volume work containing practically all the sermons preached by the church leaders in the first thirty or forty years after coming to Utah. Many years ago, I learned, every Mormon home had a copy of this work. But then the church leaders decided that it wasn't necessary for the members to have it, and it was not reprinted. It became a rarity. Why? Every anti-Mormon work I had read relied heavily on quotations from the sermons in the Journal of Discourses. But the present-day church leaders almost never referred to it. Why? It bothered me, but I put the thought aside.
While I was living in Ogden, a fundamentalist publisher brought out a photographic reprint of the entire Journal of Discourses, in hard binding, for $250. If I had not been a poor schoolteacher I would have bought it, because I yearned to be able to read the wise words of the early leaders. But the question of why this work was suppressed by the church still bothered me. I put the thought aside. (The church then very quietly did republish it, in a paperback edition.)
One of the accusations made by anti-Mormon works I had read was that Brigham Young had taught that God had revealed to him that Adam was, in fact, God the Father. To substantiate this, they quoted Brigham's sermons in the Journal of Discourses. If only I could check for myself! I was reminded of a strange comment made after class one day by Sidney B. Sperry, the BYU professor and authority on Book of Mormon and Bible studies. I had taken a Book of Mormon class from him, and admired him greatly. One day he said mysteriously to a small group of students who had stayed after class, "I think, when you get to the Celestial Kingdom, you may be greatly surprised to find out who God really is!" Wow! That implied that Dr. Sperry knew some secret that not many people knew; that we students didn't really know all there was to be known about this; that the prophets had not told all. What could that secret be?
As I researched this more, and found again and again the same words quoted from Brigham Young's Journal of Discourses sermons, it began to fit together: Adam was really God!
After two years teaching high school in Zion, I was offered a scholarship to continue my graduate studies in Baltimore. We accepted. Again we were surrounded by Gentiles, and again I had a large research library available.
Certain events in church history really began to bother me. Why had Zion's Camp failed? Why had the Kirtland Bank failed? Both of these enterprises were organized for the benefit of the church by God's prophet, who promised that they would succeed. It was difficult to avoid the conclusion that God was not doing much to direct the affairs of his church. And, as I thought about it, the same could be said for the experiments in the United Order (holding all property in common), plural marriage, the Deseret Alphabet - all projects begun with great promise, directed by God's anointed leaders, and all of which failed and were soon abandoned. It bothered me, but I put the thought aside.
What began to bother me most was that the church did not seem to be telling the entire truth about many events in its past. The evidence I read seemed to leave no doubt that the church had encouraged, if not organized, the enforcer gangs called the Danites or the Avenging Angels. Too many independent and primary sources testified of their activities. At that time in my researches the true story of the Mountain Meadows massacre was becoming known, an atrocity which the official church history passed off as the work of Indians, whereas it was becoming clear that the primary blame was on the church. The massacre itself was bad enough, but to me the subsequent whitewash by the church was worse, so far as the divine nature of the church was concerned. It bothered me, but I put the thought aside.
Among the papers of my grandfather, who had served a mission to England in 1910, I found a number of tracts and pamphlets that he had used on his mission. One was the transcript of a debate in 1850 between John Taylor (then an apostle, and on a mission in England) and a Methodist minister. Among the topics discussed in the debate was the rumor, common at the time, that the Mormons were practicing plural marriage. Taylor vigorously denied the rumors as a vicious lie, and firmly asserted on his honor that Mormons were good monogamists. At that very time, however, Taylor himself was married to twelve living wives. All of the top men in the church also had multiple wives at that time. How could a prophet of God lie so blatantly? It bothered me, but I tried to put the thought aside.
The Adam-God problem continued to occupy my mind. I finally decided to try to settle the matter. If the doctrine were true, I was willing, as a faithful member of the church, to accept it. If it were not true, I needed some explanation about the apparent fact that Brigham Young (and other church authorities of his time) vigorously taught it. So I composed a letter to Joseph Fielding Smith, whom I respected very much, and who at the time was the Church Historian and the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. If he would only answer my letter! I spelled out to President Smith my dilemma: the evidence seemed to be clear and uncontroverted that Brigham Young had taught that Adam is God the Father. But the present church does not teach this. What is the truth?
I secretly thought (and perhaps hoped) that President Smith would write back and say something like: "Dear Brother, your diligence and faith in searching for the truth has led you to a precious secret, not known to many; yes, you can be assured that President Young taught the truth: Adam is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to deal. The church does not proclaim this precious truth because we do not wish to expose the mysteries of God to the mockery of the world. Preserve this secret truth as you do the secrets of your temple endowment."
I received a short and clear answer to my letter from President Smith. It was quite different from what I had expected. He wrote that such an idea was unscriptural and untrue, and completely false. He did not deal with the evidence that Brigham Young had taught it. He ignored the whole problem as if it didn't exist. It bothered me, but I tried to put it out of my mind.
At the time I was auditing a class at the university in the history of philosophy. It was fascinating. I had no idea that ordinary human beings had given such thought to some of these questions. It occurred to me that my religion had plenty of answers and explanations, but it provided those answers without even really realizing what the questions were. The answers my church gave seemed rather flimsy and superficial, not even dealing with the really basic problems. I was introduced to the study of ethics, and was surprised to find the same thing: my religion, which claimed to be the ultimate, final and complete answer, was not even an introductory primer to the great ethical problems with which great thinkers had been dealing for hundreds of years.
However, I remained a faithful member of the church, fulfilling all my church obligations, attending meetings, observing the Word of Wisdom, wearing my temple garments. But I was struggling mightily to reconcile the church's inconsistencies, lies, and dubious past with my faith in its divinity.
It was at a single moment one day in the university library when I was pondering this problem. I was suddenly struck with the thought, "All of these problems disappear as soon as you realize that the Mormon church is just another man-made institution. Everything then is easily explained." It was like a revelation. The weight suddenly lifted from me and I was filled with a feeling of joy and exhilaration. Of course! Why hadn't I seen it before?
I rushed home to share with my wife the great discovery I had made. I told her what I had learned: the church isn't true!
She turned away and stomped up the stairs. She refused to accept anything I said critical about the church. It was the beginning of the end of our marriage.
I tried to continue my church responsibilities, primarily as ward organist. But I found it more and more difficult to sound sincere in public speaking, public prayer, or participation in class discussions. During the next summer my wife took the children back to Utah for a visit, and I felt it was silly for me to continue to wear the temple garments. And why shouldn't I have a cup of coffee with the other students, or have a glass of wine at a party? I had never tasted coffee or alcohol in my life, but there was no reason now, I felt, to deprive myself of those pleasant things. The next year was an armed truce in my marriage.
My wife left me suddenly, with no warning, taking the children. Her friends at church helped her escape, and she returned to Zion and divorced me. A last-ditch attempt at reconciliation failed when she said that her return would be conditioned upon my returning to the faith. I realized that I could not do it, however much I wanted to keep my family. Of course she got custody of the children. She remarried four years later, her new husband a faithful priesthood holder whose wife had left the church. (How ironic, that a church which places such a high value on family ties actually destroys the very thing it claims to promote!)
In the years since leaving the church I have never regretted my decision for a moment (other than the fact that it caused me to lose my wife and children). Subsequent study has given me a hundred times as much damning information about the church and its history as I had at the time of my original decision to leave it. Many Mormon friends and family members have tried to convince me that I made a mistake, but when I insist that they also listen to what I have to say about my reasons for believing the church to be false, they soon abandon the attempt, even though I assure them that my mind is open to any evidence or reasoning I may have overlooked. They are convinced that I apostatized because of sin, lack of faith, stubbornness, pride, hurt feelings, lack of knowledge or understanding, depravity, desire to do evil or live a life of debauchery. None of those reasons is correct. I left for one reason, and one reason only: the Mormon church is not led by God, and it never has been. It is a religion of 100% human origin.
My wife believed, I think, that since the church had taught me to be honest, loving, faithful, hard-working and a good husband, my leaving the church would mean I would soon become just the opposite. She was probably not alone in believing that I would soon be a shiftless, godless, miserable bum, dead at an early age of syphilis and alcoholism.
However, my life since leaving the church has been a rich and rewarding one. I have been successful in my profession. I married a lovely girl with beliefs similar to mine, and we now have two fine adult sons whom we raised with no religious training whatsoever, and who are as admirable human beings as one could ever want their children to be. We have prospered materially (probably more than most of my good Mormon relatives), and our life has been rich in many other ways as well, rich in good friends, in appreciation of the beauty to be found in our world. We have explored all the intellectual and spiritual riches of our human heritage and profited from it all.
And as I am getting older I also realize that I have no fear of death, even though I have no idea what to expect when it comes. In that regard I find I am unlike many Mormons, who are desperately worried that they have not been sufficiently "valiant" in their devotion to the church to qualify for the Celestial Kingdom. Again, how ironic it is that a church which begins by promising its members such joy and happiness actually causes them such worry and despair!
I am still proud of my Mormon heritage. I still enjoy doing genealogy work (I have more complete records than most of my Mormon family members). I still love to play and sing some of the stirring old Mormon hymns. I still keep a good supply of food on hand. And I still believe in eternal progression: things just keep getting better and better.
As a postscript: Apostle Bruce R. McConkie admitted that Brigham Young did teach that Adam was God, and that the church has indeed lied about its own history. (read his letter here) He says that Brigham Young was wrong, but he has gone to the Celestial Kingdom; but if you believe what Brigham Young taught about that, you will go to hell. The fact that the church can put a "positive spin" on these admissions is truly mind-boggling.
You’ve heard it, right? The sex abuse scandal covered by AP News where if only the church had contacted the police, they could have prevented the 2nd daughter of the family getting raped. That was the boom, the catalyst for the beginning of the end of my faith. Sure, as a feminist, some things bothered me in the background of the church. Sure, as an ally of the LGBT community, some things gradually bothered me about the church. But the AP news story a few months ago was the catalyst because I couldn’t believe the church wouldn’t apologize for that happening, and instead attacked AP News & accused it of exaggerating the flaws of the church’s hotline. Then I realized the Oaks talk about the church not apologizing for anything was serious. The church is run by human men; if our doctrine is to apologize for our human mistakes then as an organization conducted by human (men) it ought to be subject to the same doctrine. Then I learned about the Book of Abraham having part of its manuscript in a museum, and even on the Church website it is acknowledged that it isn’t a real translation. Yet the BoM continues to title the Book of Abraham as a translation. Then there’s the inconsistency of D&C 132 saying God blessed Solomon with multiple wives when in the Book of Mormon God called it an abomination before him. Then there’s the fact that in 1962 October General Conference Kimball claimed a family had a daughter who was visibly whiter than her ethnic parents because of the righteousness of the family, and that’s white supremacy in General Conference, which is supposed to be modern-day scripture. That’s not okay. I love the church. I am angry with the church. I can’t stand how wrong the church is. So I left & so I’m leaving.
I had my first faith crisis when our oldest started giving us trouble in high school. I realized then, that my eternal family may not be so eternal. I also realized I believed in a very scary and judgmental God and I didn’t like it. I went inactive for about a year. I started studying other books about God, his love, his mercy. I eventually went back to church because I still had little ones at home and thought it was the only way. But I was never the same person, nor did I have the same testimony. My shelf was so full of teachings I didn’t understand and things I no longer believed in. They put me in RS for five years but I would only teach lessons on gods love and faith and enduring to the end. Like a lot of people, my final Sunday at church was the last Sunday before Covid. I started listening to podcasts and came across one about a lady who had left the Mormon church. Everything she said resonated with me so strongly and I wanted to learn more. I listen to everything I could find, Mormon Stories, etc. In 2020 my husband and I decided to move from California to Idaho. (Three of our kids lived there) Once I got here I knew I was completely done and was never going back. All my children have left the church, each for their own reasons, and my husband eventually left as well. We are all so happy and content with our life now. Finding a Community has been tough but I wouldn’t change anything. The people in our lives now are genuine, kind and real. There is life after mormonism, and it's wonderful.
Why would anyone stay? To paraphrase Elizabeth Bennett Browning's sonnet 43, "How Do I Love Thee",
WHY DID I LEAVE THEE (THE CHURCH)
Why did I leave thee?
Let me count the reasons.
I left thee over historicity,
And not ‘cause I’m a heathen.
I left thee over Smith's polygamy and his child brides.
This does the Church indict.
I left thee 'cause of patriarchy,
And denying women equal rights.
I left thee over past racism.
When the Church claimed the priesthood was only for the Whites
I left thee over LGBTQ issues.
The Church wants gays quiet and out-of-sight.
The Church is aware of all its errors,
But in no way is contrite.
Instead it manipulates the story
And tries to gaslight.
Cognitive dissonance, guilt and shame
Was this member’s plight.
But I have left the Church forever,
To live a free and honest life.
I got frustrated with always being told “milk before meat” when I would ask hard questions about the church. I’ve always been a fan of logic, science, and critical thinking. I just finally got around to applying logic and reason to matters of faith and found them to be lacking. When I’d ask questions of my church leaders they would always tell me to focus on the basics. So I did. Unfortunately I discovered everything that was good about Mormonism wasn’t unique. And everything unique about Mormonism wasn’t good.
I somehow always knew that I am gay. But because I got in touch with the Church I thought that this is a sin and that I need to repent. And so I started to hide it and tried so ignore my feelings for other guys.
Also in my time of investigating the Church for almost two years I got in touch with problematic topics and all the criticism against the Church. But I did exactly the same; I ignored it and often said that these things are all made up to harm the Church.
But in October 2021 I met a boy on a social media page who is gay too. We had a wonderful time with chatting and talking and as we really met for the first time in real life, started to kiss and to cuddle, I felt that this is what I always really wanted. That this, a relationship between two boys, is nothing sinful or bad. I met him several more times and we had sex too. But I was hiding it, because I was scared. Scared that the Members would start to hate me. That they would start trying to make me straight and that they would tell me that I am a dirty sinner. I deeply felt that this can't be the will of Jesus. I came to the conclusion that denying the love of human beings is the worst thing someone could do.
And so it all started. In the Time where I had Sex with this boy, hold his hand and kissed him and did "sinful things" in the eyes of the Church, I got my calling in the Elders Quorum. From that point I, knew that all this is nothing about inspiration, but just how you look on the outside. I wondered; Is it really that easy to deceive God, or is it just deceiving men? I lost my testimoy of the Priesthood. And so I lost my faith in Joseph Smith and all the other Prophets and Apostles, the faith in the Book of Mormon, the faith in the Word of Wisdom and my faith in God. And then there was the CES-Letter which just puts all the lies and the dark chapters of the history of the Church on top.
I felt so sad, angry and disappointed at the same time. I cried for hours. Did I really just wasted 3 years of my life? Did I really believed in something, that is full of lies and intrigue? And yes, I did. And this understanding hurt me so deep. My Faith was a house of cards wich floor by floor, slowly collapsed with every new TRUE thing I learned about the Church. And I really got very depressed. But all the Members wich I talked to, didn't really care about my concerns and doubts. They simply said I should not read 'Anti-Mormon' literature and that I should ignore these things. But I cannot Ignore facts and science. I cannot Ignore how the Church treats members of the LGBTQ Community. And I can and will not ever ignore and be silent about the hundreds of lies, the leaders of the Church tell it's members. Never. I am still very sad and disappointed, but on the other hand I am very thankful not to waste more time of my life for an Organisation that is hypocritical and just dangerous for the people of the world.
Now I know the truth. And we all know that the truth sometimes hurts. But the truth is way better than a life full of ignorance and lies.
In 2020, when in-person church services came to a halt, I started to examine my feelings about the church. My children were getting older and starting to experience things that every normal, healthy teenager experiences. Things started unraveling for me when my oldest daughter discussed with me having her annual bishops interview and discussing masturbation. The thought of my minor daughter discussing her private sexual habits with a grown man (untrained to discuss such topics) was utterly appalling.
I had an acquaintance from my ward that was posting on social media about their feelings on the church which made it clear they were no longer an active member. I was surprised, intrigued, and bothered, all at the same time. This person had served in the young women's presidency and I wondered how someone who seemed so "faithful" could have left the church.
I started seeing video clips on my social media feeds of Mormon Stories and people sharing their experiences with leaving the church. They were discussing topics and concepts I had never heard of as an active member for 38 years - issues about Joseph Smith translating the gold plates using a rock and a hat, inconsistencies in the book of mormon, and the straw that broke the camels back - the Second Anointing. I watched multiple videos of individuals who shared stories of parents and grandparents who had this "Second Anointing" - a blessing that guaranteed them entrance into the celestial kingdom and godhood. These individuals discussed how their family members, even after receiving this blessing, were abusive, controlling, pedophiles, and so on. I could not wrap my head around the fact that we were always taught to "endure to the end", yet there was a blessing we could receive in this life that would allow us to not have to endure any longer. We could be guaranteed entrance into the kingdom of god and obtain godhood, no matter what we did for the rest of our lives.
I went on to learn about the church finances and how they hoard money, property, etc. all while bleeding their membership dry financially. As a very young married couple with a brand new baby, my husband and I struggled to make ends meet. We went to our bishop for financial assistance. He agreed to help us pay rent as long as we went to the church building for multiple weekends and pull weeds - with our only months old baby in tow. It was demeaning, humiliating, and we were still expected to pay our tithing, even while struggling to put food on the table.
I tried cafeteria mormonism for a while - determined to live whatever part of the church felt good to me. But that didn't last long. I hated being a hypocrite and knew I was setting a terrible example for my children - claiming to believe in the church, but only bits and pieces. I knew I had to be true to myself and live the life I knew was right for me, my husband, and my children.
The CES letter was the nail in the coffin and confirmed to me that my decision to leave was the right one.
Where to begin this long and complex story? The very first time I had an issue with church leadership was when I was 16 years old and brought into my bishop's office to have a check-in "interview" where we talked about driving and, of course, dating. The two big milestones when you turn 16! I remember feeling so excited about those two new privileges. My bishop talked to me about general safety and joked that he would stay off the roads for a little while. Then we started talking about dating. He advised me to go out in groups and never be alone with a boy. Then he said something that resonated with me negatively. He said "please make sure that you dress in a way that will not distract any young man from straying from the path" I didn't mind dressing modestly so that was fine, but why was it MY responsibility to keep HIM from going off the path? My bishop has good counsel, so I decide to push my feelings aside and just listen. My first item on the shelf.
A few months later, we got a new bishop in my ward. He was older than the last one so I had a couple more items added to my shelf as I stayed in this ward. I was about to be a YCL at girls' camp. One of my leaders had asked me to give a lesson on self-worth and to include a small thing about purity because it might be less awkward coming from someone the girls really look up to. I said I would and looked for examples. All I could find were terrible things involving fear. So I changed my plan and didn't tell anyone. I start my lesson and go through the importance of standing up for what you believe in and determining your own worth for yourself. I pulled out a brand new $20 bill and started to ask the girls what they would buy with it. After they gave me their answers, I crumpled it, stomped on it, rubbed it in the dirt, tore a small piece off of a corner, and taped it back together. I turned back and asked, "now what can you buy with this?" They all looked confused and gave me the same answers. I told them that it didn't matter how dirty, broken, or crumpled they felt, they would always be worth the same amount. The female leaders thought it was great, but the priesthood leader who was listening did not and immediately called my bishop. The next Sunday, I got called into my bishop's office and he was very upset with me. I did not follow the teachings of the church and that "was simply unacceptable." He told me I needed to apologize to the girls' parents for telling them things that didn't coincide with our leaders. I told him no and asked him to go and ask the girls who were in my group how the lesson made them feel instead. What did I do that was so bad? I walked out of his office and thought that maybe I should have just done what they asked so I wouldn't have gotten in trouble. Guilt started to set in and I didn't tell anyone. Another heavy item on my shelf.
Almost 2 years later, I was about to graduate from high school. I was the Laurel president and managed to not make any more waves since I got in a lot of trouble. Every time I felt the need to question something or speak up about something I disagreed with, I forced myself to push it aside because that feeling of guilt hit me. More little items were added to my shelf over those years. The Sunday before we all graduated, our bishop came in to talk to our class about our next steps. It was filled with the most misogynistic bullshit I had ever heard! He told us that we would all be wives and mothers before we knew it (nothing about education except that it MIGHT be a good idea in case something happened to our husbands). He told us that we needed to make sure that our appearance was desirable and reminded us to maintain that in our marriages. He told us that we should wake up before our husbands and make sure we look pretty for them, make sure to get everything ready that they need for the day and make sure they have a nice clean home to come home to every day. I can't make this up and oh boy did my mom have some things to say to him after church! I didn't want to get in trouble so I just set it aside yet again. (UNFINISHED)
Born in '73 & raised in TSCC by two strict Mormon parents, (my mother also was physically abusive towards myself and my 3 siblings for many years. Fortunately, she is a fully reformed abuser of 30 years give-or-take but the damage was done)
I was sexually abused multiple times at the age of 5 by a married man (also Mormon, and close friends of my parents) and father of 3 young boys.
Military brat. (Dad: Air Force & Mom: honorably discharged Marine) Born in Okinawa and lived in Europe for 4 years, stationed all over the U.S.
I recently left TSCC after not being able to stomach the homophobia, bigotry, bigamy, sexism, child abuse, personal trauma and outright damning lies.
I lost my only brother, my dearest friend (oldest sibling) from suicide, due to being diagnosed with AIDS a little over 3 years ago. I know that my parent's beliefs were one of the direct causes of his death. I've felt let down and repulsed by TSCC for many years and now I'm trying to move past the disenchantment and grief of said years and money lost to TSCC.
Having left, I've felt more hopeful, less anxious and freer in these past 4 months than I ever did in the past 49 years of my life. I just wish I had left sooner.
I plan on making whatever time left I have being my authentic self and finding happiness outside of TSCC.
I'd always known I was different than the other kids my age but I didn't quite know why. When I hit puberty, changes that made the other boys in my class happy caused me to feel wrong and uncomfortable in my body. I began to wish that I was a girl even though I didn't have any idea what being transgender was at the time. I prayed every night for God to take these thoughts away from me with no response. I fell into a deep depression over what I thought were impure and perverse thoughts. I stopped attending church at the height of my depression when I was sixteen. I started dating a good friend of mine at eighteen and they convinced me to rejoin the church so we could be married. I thought I had gotten over my "unnatural urges" and come out on the other side. As I reconnected with the LDS faith I started to see problems that I could not accomodate. The LDS church's homophobic and sexist policies became more and more upsetting as I got older and I made more LGBTQ friends and I had a harder and harder time overlooking the historical inaccuracies in the Book of Mormon. I finally found the label for the thoughts and unhappiness in my head when I was twenty-three and tried to tell my spouse that I might be transgender. The confession was met with threats of losing access to my child if I were ever to come out. My relationship with my spouse soured as they became neglectful and abusive. I stopped going to church entirely and began to resent the LDS church. I finally came out a year after I first realized I was a woman and that signaled the end of my marriage. I have now been on hormones for a year and a half and have never been happier.
My wife preceded me out of the church. Her leaving was like a gut punch. How could we have a celestial family with a non-believing mom. It took me a bit to come to terms with it, and she helped me immensely, but I eventually realized that I married her and not the church. I decided to double down and get us all there. At the same time, I tried to understand why she left. I will absolutely admit that I was arrogant enough to think that if she gave me the reasons, I would be able to "reason" her back into the church. Wow was I wrong. I had plenty of shelf items, but the first time I was honestly and permanently stumped was when we were talking about the Book of Abraham. I never studied apologetics, but I knew all of the "answers" anyway. The problem is, the only good answer for the BoA is wow, that doesn't make sense. I started to listen to A Year of Polygamy podcast on her recommendation. When I got to the episode about Helen Marr Kimball, all of my belief collapsed. How could I follow a man that would do that. My wife told me about her shelf-breaker, the Lowry Nelson letters. Our kids have all left as well. It has been a difficult time leaving, but our little family is happier and more together than ever.
It's not true: plain & simple. After watching my husband become a happier, more confident person as he stepped further & further away from the Mormon church, I realized my entire life had been based on a lie. I promptly had an identity crisis and then dedicated the rest of my life to sharing my story, amplifying the voices of others, and telling the world how evil, controlling, and false the Mormon church is. It occurred to me that I had more integrity than the "Only True" church I had been brought up in, because when I was made aware of their lies & atrocities I refused to be associated with them any longer. I found out that a bishop had been excommunicated for his insistence in ending 1-on-1 interviews between grown men and children. The Gospel Topic Essays told mixed truths after decades of leaving crucial pieces of history out of Sunday School lessons. The temple ordinances changed and I was told not to speak about them. I can't even list everything that pushed me to resign, but those are a few of them. Ultimately, I found that I was a healthier, happier, more empathetic person outside of the Mormon church and I have never looked back.
I so wanted the church to be true. I enjoyed so many aspects of the church when I was growing up: dances and the annual Gold and Green Ball, Super Saturday, Road Shows, 3 and 4 day temple trips to the Washington temple (even got a White House tour back in the days when you just had to wait in line), our annual Winter Carnival. So many great memories.
My first real crisis with church stuff came when I attempted to serve a mission. Was called to serve in Rome, Italy, and entered the MTC in the fall of 1990. I was dismayed at the hero worship of church leadership, the blind obedience to authority, and some of the general weirdness that went on. One example of the weirdness: we had one guy in my MTC district, who was also one of the three other guys I shared a room with, who viewed himself as hyper spiritual and knowledgeable about the scriptures. He was always making grand claims about his spiritual experiences. In the middle of one night, he wakes us all up and claims there is an evil spirit in the room that was trying to kill him. He had us all get up and use our "priesthood power" to command the evil spirit to leave. I went through the motions, but was thinking to my self "what the f....". When everyone else spoke of this, they spoke of it in terms or reverence and awe. I made the mistake of saying I thought the whole thing was kind of bizarre. Oh wow, that really set the entire district off on me. So anyway, I got to wondering why I was never getting these hyper spiritual experiences when everyone else was claiming to get them. I was doing the right things, and I desperately wanted to get them, but never did. All of those things led to me basically having a nervous breakdown in the MTC. So after about five weeks, I went home.
It took me a few years to get myself back to where I felt like I was in a good place with church. I eventually got married in the temple, started a family and a career, and continued my activity in the church. I attended church, kept my temple recommend active, filled my callings, paid tithing, read scriptures, and prayed regularly. But I never got anything that confirmed the church to me. Sure, some things felt good, but I would feel just as good as I did when I was away on a work trip and would go out to eat with co-workers and they would all get a beer or some other alcoholic drink. Why would church feel the same as having a nice time with co-workers who were sinning? Didn't make sense to me. Eventually stuff like this led to me starting to doubt not just the church, but even the existence of God. But I soldiered on with the church, eventually deciding that it didn't really matter if the church was true, or even if God existed, I liked the church and believed it to be good.
But then Prop 8 happened. Being a person who was open and accepting, and who had a few LGBTQ friends, Prop 8 was hard for me to deal with. I could not understand why the church would care about the issue, particularly when most of the people affected were not even Mormons. That was a big weight on my "shelf". But eventually Prop 8 faded in to the background and I continued to live my life, trying to be a good Mormon and raise my kids to strong in the church because I still believed it to be "good", even if I was not sure if it was "true" or even if God existed.
Then one Sunday, someone mentioned the Gospel Topics Essays. I had never heard of these. So after church, I went home and looked them up. These were essays written and published by the church (so they are official) that dealt with many of the messy things in church history. As I looked through the different topics, I realized that I had never even heard of most of the issues, and the ones I had heard of, I was told were anti-Mormon lies. But there they were, essentially an official admission by the church that my church leaders had lied to me. Wow, that hit hard. So I began to read some of them. That was a real eye opener. Then I read the essay about race and the priesthood. I knew this was a touchy and controversial topic, and one I had never fully come to grips with. But at face value, the essay seemed to offer some explanation. But then the very next day, while trying to be a good Mormon Dad and read the scriptures with my kids for their seminary assignment, I read 2 Nephi chapter 5. Wow...the essay claims the disavow any theories that dark skin was a curse from God, but right there, in the "Keystone" of the Mormon church, the "most correct book", was the teaching that dark skin was a curse from God. It was a blatant lie that the church didn't know where the idea came from, and it was a blatant lie the teaching was disavowed, because the seminary assignment had the kids reading it right there in scripture. It was, and still is, a part of Mormon scripture. Well that was the moment my shelf completely collapsed. The church had lied to me about its historical issues, and was flat out deceiving and lying about views on race. So what else was it hiding? What other issues were out there?
I began my deep dive, found the CES Letter, found Mormon Stories, discovered RFM, and many others. The more I read or listened, the worse the church sounded. It soon became apparent to me that not only was the church not "true", it wasn't even remotely "good". It was founded by a power hungry sex predator with a long history of being a con-artist. It holds bigoted and racist views. It caters to right-wing violent extremists. It breeds sexism and misogyny. It protects and enables abusers and predators. It fights against equal rights for the LGBTQ community. It hoards money, exploits tax loopholes, and lies about how its finances are being spent.
There are good people in the church, many good people that I truly love, respect, and care about. But I do not believe the church to be true, and definitely do not believe the church to be good.
I was always an outcast due to my medical disabilities and attribute that to the beginning of my resignation from the church. I'm not going to say I loved being apart of the church but I always tried to stay true to the beliefs, everybody has been told that the church is perfect but the people aren't.
I didn't really do a deep dive into the doctrine until I was 21. I found out a lot of what I thought to be true was all a lie, I was angry and devistated. I couldn't really talk to anyone about my newfound knowledge, except for my best friend, my uncle and the awesome people of the Exmormon subreddit.
I struggled at first but after a lot of self reflection, advice from friends and family drama, I overcame my faith crisis and took my life into the direction I wanted to go. I officially resigned from the church in July 2021.
My Exit Statement is posted on my site here: http://www.fnhenderson.us/ExitStatement.pdf
Individual sovereignty means that it is evil for any other person or Church to interfere with one's honest and peaceful choices. This criterion means use of Temple Covenants are acts of domination and control which disregard that being a free and sovereign person having purity of motive, and being free of coercion, and having the capacity to give informed consent,
are necessary pre-conditions to any judgement of one’s morality.
In our law which is just, self-ownership (personal sovereignty) must exist if one is to be free, hence subject to judgement under the law. Contracts, similar to Covenants, are nullified in law when the person is 1.) Uninformed. 2.) Deceived. 3.) pressured or coerced. Temple Covenants are invalidated for any one or all of those same reasons:
1.) When disclosure of the Covenants is absent because they are secret. In other words, one must know what are the Covenants that one will be required to make before considering a Church mission or Temple marriage.
2.) When the party who stands to benefit, the Church, misrepresents itself by giving false, deceptive, or hiding information about itself, simultaneously being the party who creates the Covenants and who administers them.
3.) When coercion is used, or when time pressure is used, or when one is too young, or when unethical, or when kept secret, then the Covenants are invalidated.
The Church has a conflict of interest being a beneficiary of the Covenants. Therefore, it has an
incentive to act unethically, and it does so by swearing the Covenants to secrecy. Ethically, a person must be fully aware of and must receive objective advise in favor of, or against, such as an attorney offers on making comparable secular promises. Secrecy, misrepresentation of the institution, or social pressure invalidate the Covenants.
My older brother came out to me as gay on my 19th birthday. Just a month later, the Church's Policy of Exclusion, or the November Policy, was publicly revealed. The PoX made ZERO sense to me. Gay people are born gay; how could the Church lock them out of heaven because of the way they were born? I tried my best to justify the policy, telling myself that all gay people had to do was follow the doctrine, just like everyone else. However, I began to look at my now-husband and realize that this wonderful experience that so many people get to have is denied to gay people; LGBT members are required to choose companionship and being true to themselves, or choose damnation. I began to realize how big of an ask "die alone" is compared to "hey, don't drink coffee, but Mountain Dew is still fine." I also, for the first time in my life, began to question the reasons behind the Black Priesthood Ban. The way the ban was taught to me was: "this was a decision made by prophets so we may never fully understand, but we did eventually get it straightened out so GO TEAM!!" I realized that Black people had also been locked out of heaven; because Black men were denied the Priesthood, Black couples couldn't be sealed together, which means that they couldn't enter the Celestial Kingdom. Why would God deny people a return to His presence because of the way they were born?
I tried my best to just not think about it, and I ultimately was sealed in the temple. My dad recommended that I talk to my YSA Bishop early so I could resolve anything that needed resolving before the wedding. I didn't care because I had nothing to resolve, but whatever. I first met with my Bishop three months prior to our wedding date and expected to be in and out in five minutes; my husband had met with his Bishop already and got it over with super fast. My meeting lasted about 15 minutes, most of the time being consumed by the Bishop asking about my adherence to the Law of Chasity. It wasn't one question; it was multiple questions about multiple different sexual acts, and after I said "no" to each act, he would ask "you're sure?" "Yes." "You're SURE?" It was the only time I have ever felt uncomfortable in a Bishop meeting. I had heard from other people who had gotten a temple recommend from him that in those pre-sealing recommend interviews he is THOROUGH, but in the moment the knowledge that this wasn't personal didn't make it any more comfortable. He told me that he would only give me a recommend if my church attendance improved. I have experienced migraines since I was just 3 years old, and they've gotten worse the older I get. Sundays are my migraine "crash day" (if you know, you know) and my church attendance was sporadic, and I rarely went to all 3 hours of church. I wasn't worried about it because the God of my understanding knew I was doing my best and could just meet me in my home. I figured that if the Bishop was asking to go to fix my church attendance, he must not know what I was dealing with. I told him I got my migraines and that's why I have a hard time attending church, and his response literally knocked the wind out of me.
I thought of all the missionary farewells I had missed as my friends from high school left. I thought about myself laying on a bus on a school trip to San Diego as everyone else explored the grounds of the San Diego temple because I had a migraine. I thought of myself at age 6 trying to sleep off a migraine in my grandparent's spare bed room on Christmas Eve. Did...did God not care about ANY of that? I had always believed God understood, but now this Judge of Israel was saying my struggle was irrelevant. For the first time in my life, I was angry that I as a woman couldn't be a Priesthood holder. I had always defended the policy, but now I felt like I would have to have the Priesthood for my testimony to be of worth. But me being me, I did as I was told: I went to church every week for all 3 hours. I had Sundays were I struggled to pay attention because I was in so much pain. Mondays and Tuesdays at work became torture because I NEEDED those crash days. Through it all, I was furious at God. How could He see me going through this and WANT this for me, after He had already told me it was fine? I realized that I had my salvation in jeopardy because of the way I was born, and I felt abandoned because of it. I hoped that going through the temple would help me restore my relationship with God; everyone always said going to the temple is wonderful and clarifying, and I thought that if I could learn to understand this sentence anywhere, the temple would be the place. Three weeks prior to my wedding, my Bishop signed the recommend, and I had to have an immediate meeting with my new Stake President in the area where my new apartment was, even though I had never met the man before, so I could get my endowments done. I walked into the temple ready to receive clarity, but all I got instead was discomfort. I didn't feel much of anything. As I sat with my husband afterwards, before we left, and I asked him what he thought. "It's good, you?" I didn't have the heart to tell him the truth and said it was good. I asked in my mind "Heavenly Father, why is this all happening to me? Please help me understand." For the first time in my life, my prayer was unanswered. We wouldn't speak about our feelings during our endowments for three years. We were sealed a week later, and we didn't return to the temple for a while. I didn't want to go back, and my husband never brought it up, so I didn't bring it up. My parents offered to do a session with us at our now-local temple so we could feel comfortable with the process and ready to go on our own. We went with them, and that session became our final session. A part of me realized I didn't want to be a part of this anymore, but I refused to accept the truth of my feelings because that would require me to reject everything I had ever known. By the time I discovered the Church's history, I was already hanging on by a thread. As I did research, a thought crossed my mind: If I had a child, and that child came out as LGBTQ, how would I feel raising them in the church, knowing what I know now?
I submitted my resignation that instant.
I did not make a methodical decision to leave the Church. I left initially because I was struggling with personal challenges that I knew would put me at odds with my temple covenants.
I stayed away from the Church because I could not see God, or love in it's teachings. I could not reconcile many of the teachings of the Church with a loving God. The Mormon God seemed irratic, punitive and shallow to me.
I have learned a great deal and have an even greater deal to learn about the truth claims of the Church and how very manipulated I was as an active member.
My struggles now related to this are twofold. One, I deeply miss the community and purpose the Church provides. Two, I am taking in a great deal of information and trying to digest it all.
I don't think I ever had a testimony of the church. I believed in Christianity, but never quite bought into Mormonism. Growing up in Utah, I just went along with it because everybody else was. One thing that's different about me though, is my parents were adult converts from southern California. We swore, drank Coke, and watched R movies all the time. My family has a theater background, so queer people were always a positive in my life. In other words, were weren't very good Mormons.
I couldn't really pinpoint when it all went awry for me. I remember being involved in CA Prop 22 (the precursor to Prop 8), and from there the church just kept getting less and less like Jesus in my eyes.
The short answer why I left? Integrity. The church became something I no longer recognized. Jesus had been replaced by Corporate Mormon Jesus. It is not loving or forgiving, but most importantly, they are unrepentant. So I had to leave. A church that could not abide by the same rules its members are subject to cannot be God's church. Not the God I believed in.
I learned Mormonism had a messy and complicated past early on in my time in the Church. But as time went on I came to grips with other issues that further complicated my beliefs. I started my podcast "Mormon Discussion" as a believer and sitting Bishop, with the goal to explore Mormon history. Over the span of 5 years I learned so many things the Church chose not to tell me that deeply pointed to it not being what it claimed. First I learned the Church was causing real harm to people who did not fit the mold. The LGBT community was deeply at risk. Others included members who had doubts as well as members who concluded the Church was not what it claimed and left. I sensed just how precarious relationships are between people who loved each other but for which their doubt or disbelief led to believing family stepping back from full inclusive love. I learned the Church was not a safe place for many. Second was that I had to come to grips that the Church shielding its members and the public generally from learning the complicated history was at least in large part intentional. This was hard. Once I dealt with that I was opened up to whether the truth claims of my beloved faith truly held up against the history and against thinking rationally and logically. Over about a 6 year period I slowly deconstructed my entire belief system and lost Faith in Mormonism's truth claims and in Mormonism's ability to be healthy to others if those healthy interactions would damage the institutional Church.
In the beginning I thought I was having a faith crisis. That wasn't true. I wanted Mormonism to be truth more than anything else. If anything maybe I cared too much. Instead the Church had a truth crisis. And in my own personal growth and development, the Church no longer represented my values. I wasn't less than. I didn't want to sin. I wasn't lazy. I had outgrown Mormonism and it was no longer a safe place for me and the truths I held to voraciously.
My spouse had just left the church. I went to the temple to pray about it, and I received a beautiful, loving response from God, assurance that my spouse was on his own path and that was ok, and that our family was loved and safe.
Shortly after that feeling of peace and love from God in the temple, I watched General Conference, hungry for more guidance from my leaders on how to navigate being a part-member family. All I heard was “safety is only found in the church, Korihor doubted because of pride and look what happened to him, being worthy of the priesthood is what protects our families, only worthy members are together forever, people that leave have just stopped trying.”
After conference I was filled with fear about the spiritual and physical safety of my family, and frustration that my spouse gave up, and now it was all on me to keep my kids safely in the church. I was angry towards him, but then I remembered the feeling of peace and love I received from God, and I paused. I thought it was odd that the message of love/peace is what I received from God, and the message of fear is what I received from my leaders.
This led me to research the question: How can I know when the prophets are speaking for God and when they are speaking as men? All I found were contradictions as I researched examples from church history. For instance, one prophet declares a doctrine, calls it such, and even declares it is from God, and later that doctrine is disavowed and called a policy by later prophets.
I kept researching this question, trying to make it fit together, because I knew God was not a God of confusion, but I only found more and more disturbing facts in church history. And then I realized suddenly: **They are never speaking for God, they are always speaking as men.** And it suddenly ALL made sense. All at once, my entire testimony/worldview/identity crumbled. Thirty-seven years of faithful, believing membership, gone.
My queer daughter told me I was toxic to her and didn't love her for who she was. She wanted to end contact with me and it broke me. I couldn't lose my child and I decided to get over my homophobia. It led me to realize that the church leaders DO NOT speak for the god that I believed in at the time. I could see that god would never treat the lgbtq community the way the mormon leaders do and would never make me choose between church and my child. Once I realized that they were absolutely wrong about that, I started asking myself what else they were wrong about...
I knew I didn't quite fit the Mormon cookie-cutter. I was sort of afraid of Mormon heaven. For one thing, I knew I would have to share my husband, with no regard for how I felt about it. I also couldn't think of a single thing I enjoyed that didn't have at least a little "worldliness" to it. And I found most church stuff to be incredibly boring. Would my brain be changed so much after I died that I wouldn't miss my books and games, and would instead love being all perfect and spiritual? How would that still be me?
This thought stuck with me like a burr, making it so that I was never quite comfortable in my Mormon skin. It was the first item on my shelf.
Many times while I was growing up, I was challenged to pray to know The Church was true. And so I did. I was answered by silence and doubt. One time, besieged by depression and low self-worth, I spent perhaps a half hour pleading with my Heavenly Father to let me know that he loved me. I was feeling so alone and unloved, but I knew there was someone who was supposed to love me unconditionally. Again, I was answered with nothing: no still small voice, no burning bosom or even a slight warming of my heart. I put this on my shelf, and tried to tell myself that it didn't mean I wasn't loved.
As I grew older, I became less and less happy with the Mormon culture and what it wanted from me. It made me feel bad for any ways in which I wasn't "perfect". Any time I made a mistake I was angry at myself, thinking a better person would have been prompted to do things the right way. It told me that if I was truly righteous I shouldn't be suffering from depression. It surrounded me with the false smiles of people who knew nothing about me but knew what was "best" for me. It wanted me to be too many things: an obedient wife, a wonderful mother, a support to the priesthood, a leader and example for others, a spiritual giant, an unquestioning follower. It wanted me to always be happy, pretty, busy, selfless, devoted, and un-worldly. It told me to be a stay-at-home mom who cooked and baked and canned, had her food storage, knew all the right answers, prayed multiple times a day, and gave her life completely over to the Lord. I didn't want any of those things. I just wanted to figure out how to be happy with myself.
My shelf got heavier and heavier, but I tried not to think about it. Then one day...
I grew up KNOWING that if we are righteous we would be blessed. And that God would not give us more trials than we could handle, and that enduring them would bring MORE blessings. But eventually I had seen one too many times when someone I love with my whole heart got kicked by life while they were already down.
Suddenly I KNEW that there was no God. A loving God would NOT "allow" these things to happen over and over to good, loving, and faithful people. There was no lesson to be learned, just pain. I looked around and realized that all the piles of crap in my life did not have gold nuggets inside that I would enjoy in the next life. Crap happens, and there is no rhyme or reason to it. We have to do what we can to make our life and the lives of those we love as beautiful as we can. There is no magical sky daddy who will do it for us if we are "good".
I lost my belief in God first, and let Mormonism hover at edges of my life through family and friends. I didn't spend time with it, but I didn't push it away. But my mental health deteriorated year after year. Until I realized that I was not living my life. I was enduring it. I was going through the motions I learned so long ago instead of deciding for myself what would make me happy. So I started detaching my sense of self from my Mormon upbringing. And though it has been work, it has been so worth it.
The guilt driven narrative simply pushed me to my breaking point.
My two boys are LGBTQ+. They are not safe in the church. We realized that we had to step back to keep our younger son safe. Our older son was already 18 and had gone inactive.
I also began looking into the church history that was never taught in Sunday School or Seminary. I learned the truth about Joseph Smith's polygamy and the origins of the temple ceremonies. I was literally crushed by this. After 14 years of devotion to the temple and church, to learn what he really did was a complete betrayal for me.
I stopped attending church, but I did continue to study the details of church history and doctrine origination, and also the more recent church actions. I found that I could not maintain any personal integrity and belong to the church any longer. At times I felt grief over this. I felt grief for the fact that my dad, who passed in 1992 had been a member but was a strong advocate in his time for black members to have the priesthood, might be sad that I was leaving. I wondered if be would have stayed if he had the access I did to this information.
I sent my resignation letter to the bishop in April 2022. I had served with him in several callings, most recently in a prior bishopric. I had asked for no contact and that was respected. I received a letter from church HQ a few weeks later, but I was not actually moved off the ward rolls. That took another email to the church to ask for everything to me removed. I found that interesting that they would send me a letter but not actually do what I requested.
I see what I did as a "life correction". My parents baptized me into the church without my full understanding at 8 years old, and I corrected that error. I am truly happy and free, and feel closer to God and others now.
I give my time to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and others freely. I go where I feel I need to. I give of my resources where I am drawn to give them, where they can best help. Just as I believe God would have me do it.
See my 'About Me' :)
Misogyny was the biggest driver. I never wanted to define myself by my relationships to others. I am an individual, regardless of my sex or gender identity.
I left to make a better life for myself and my family free of the church's lies and manipulation. It is an unhealthy cult. Church culture and toxicity destroyed my family of birth. Of four boys in our family, I'm the youngest and effectively sole survivor. The two oldest brothers died young of self-inflicted causes that I attribute to the toxicity of church culture. Next to marrying a girl I met at BYU--the only positive I took from that experience--leaving the church was the best and most significant decision I've made in my life.
I read the CES letter and many of those questions were similar to my own, I began to realize that there was no proof for the book of Mormon, and no proof that Joseph Smith was ever anything more than just a man. Eventually I realized the church was entirely wrong, and brainwashes/manipulates members into believing otherwise.
I started questioning, in my mind, at age 12 if the Church was true when the things we were taught about the first people to come to the Americas just didn't make sense. I couldn't speak up about this as my parents were very strict even by Mormon standards.
Once I hit 16, I started getting bored with Church. I only went because I had no choice. It got to the point that I was more excited about Sundays because of that night's TV shows than actually going to Church.
I did get my endowments because I felt like I had to do it, even though I wasn't going on a mission because of my disability. It was just a few months after I did my endowments that I finally stopped going.
"Why I am Not a Christian", Bertrand Russell. "No Man Knows My History", Fawn M Brodie. "Under The Banner of Heaven", Jon Krakauer. "The Blind Watchmaker", Richard Dawkins. "Blood of the Prophets", Will Bagley. "South Pass", Will Bagley (especially for my handcart kindred).
My full story: https://www.secular-reality.com/2014/11/17/deep-water/
My shelf began breaking back in 2012. It was a ten-year process due to a rough marriage I stayed in for the children.
Over the last ten years my gifts of mysticism was magnifying out of my own control.
But there was an underlining current that began 26 years ago when I began homeschooling our children. Every ward we were in was infested with members and leaders who were embedded with relations and beliefs that to homeschooling was absolutely wrong! The worst of it was that all my children were learning disabled. Talk about insult to injury by members and leaders.
I was also a natural healer proponent. And have studied and used methods for decades (and keeping my mouth shut about it). But also in the process my gifts were magnifying into mysticism. Again -lived a silent life (even with the spouse).
My shelf really broke over the last ten years because my mysticism with visions and dreams and meditation was exponentially growing beyond my control and nothing that I was seeing was matching what was happening with the church. And I was sooooo sick and tired of being around people who did not think for themsleves.
The testable truth claims that need to be true for the Book of Mormon to be true are not true. A study of history and science wins out.
My daughter Rian was the first person in our families to ever serve a mission. She left on her mission Jan 1, 2020. By then, I'd been serving in the stake yw for 2 years and the frustration and anger had been building because of the lack of representation and the inequality I saw at that level of leadership. A few months prior to Rian leaving on her mission, my 16 year old son (her younger brother) came out as gay. We celebrated and loved him but he came home from church in tears most Sundays. We told him he was perfect exactly how he was but at church he heard that in God's eyes, he was not. Rian's first call home from the MTC she was sobbing. She'd chosen to serve a mission so she could teach people that they were loved by god and to serve people. She was quickly learning in the mtc that the mission was much more about rules and obedience and judgement and numbers. She was sure that once she got out into the mission field that everything would be different but it wasn't. For the next 10 months I tried to make sense of it all. I wrestled with what I "knew" was true and how I was feeling deep in my soul. I spend endless hours hiking and crying and searching for an answer that would ease my aching soul. Every Monday, Rian would call home and put on a brave face for the family but the last 15 minutes of the call were just her and me and that was when she would cry and break and fall. I told her to come home but she said there was too much shame in that. I would carry her pain along with mine every week. I felt so lost and broken and lonely and angry. In desperation, I attended a woman's retreat in Wyoming. I went alone and didn't know anyone. One night, a woman was talking and she said the words that would change my life. "If you are carrying something and it's hurting you, you can let it go. I am giving you permission to let it go." Let it go? I could do that? I knew in my heart that I had tried everything to make the church work for me and it was now time to let it go. So I did.
Church history, sexism, homophobia, racism … I think that pretty much sums it up.
1. Historical: yeh no, stuff is kind of funny and crazy
2. Theological " " "
3. Social " " "
4. Realized my membership was a personal statement of what I morally support and I resigned in Nov of 2021
ps a quick and entertaining shortcut/hack to Mormon deconstruction is https://missedinsunday.com/
I've been expanding spiritually (meditation, etc.) since, which has helped me release the past -- and focus on the present, breathing stuff out when it arises, and intentionalizing what I wish to manifest
Long story short, I'm transgender. My pronouns are he/they, I take testosterone and am in the process of getting my chest removed. I have never been as happy as I am now that I am allowed to be the person that I always knew I was. I'm so grateful to be where I am now, outside of the intensely regimented structure of the church. It's truly changed my life for the better
The church looked the other way while my sister and I were neglected by our mom, because she was "trying her best" and we had to respect her. I also realized how much abuse had happened to her as a result of the purity and perfectionist culture of the church. I always had more questions than my leaders were comfortable with, and the CES letter answered a lot of them.
My main concern has been sexuality— how it’s controlled in the personal lives of members, especially those who are queer. I’ve experienced harmful shame over developmentally normal aspects of sexuality. The high standard the church requires for entering into temple covenants was something I fought for and met, but being in the highest tier a regular member can get, I found empty promises. I was disappointed to learn that Joseph Smith who I loved and respected dearly, was the chief misuser of sexuality. Then many things fell into place as to the hypocrisy of the unreasonable standards of misogyny and submission required on a psychological level to meet these requirements. I also value honesty, and see that many contradictions exist which have personally affected my life, but I clung and trusted. The only way I was able to allow myself to entertain that it might not be true is through my husband reassuring me that he would stay with me and our relationship would not change if I were to leave.
I never understood the belief of women being lower than men and having to 'submit' to them. I never understood the lack of diversity (until seminary at least). I never understood their problem with LGBT+ people.
I'm sure I'll think of more and add to this later but those are just a few of the things. There's so much I'm learning about the church after leaving, and so much I'm unlearning about the church's doctrine to better myself and my relationships everyday.
Besides it being completely fictional the church just did not work for me
The culture is toxic.
Thankfully, growing up in Utah encouraged my leaving of the LDS church, rather than encouraged my testimony. I was always the one outside the group, making friends with the non-mormons, the non-white kids, even dating the non-religious boys. These people were kind, interesting, non-judgmental, and simply normal. I never agreed with women's purpose being at home, or how men get multiple wives in heaven, or not being allowed to drink tea, or all the flip-flopping the church had done. On top of all these irritations, I felt compelled to sacrifice what I wanted in a career for the sake of would-be children. So it wasn't difficult for me to consider the church not being true. I'd always said "If I wasn't born into it, I wouldn't believe it." I wish I'd listened to myself then, but you don't know you're in a cult until you know you're in a cult. The CES letter however, which my husband stumbled upon on Reddit, was the straw that broke the camel's back. I couldn't unread what I had. Once Joseph Smith was revealed as truly a treasure-hunting conman with a history, once I learned where he got his Book of Mormon stories from, once I learned more about his many, many young (often married) wives that he acquired sometimes under threat of death, I didn't need any more. We have pulled out and haven't looked back since.
I am transfeminine-nonbinary and pansexual. I felt vehement shame and guilt for this in the church despite not believing the church or its doctrine. The members were, suffice it to say, bougie assholes. It is tearing my family apart. The church almost took my life on several occasions.
I concluded that Mormonism isn't true. Christianity isn't true. While I have a strong sense that there is divinity and spirituality is true it is not connected to any Christian religion. Christianity is a means to control people.
So what happened to me?
Although it took me several years to leave, I would say my doubts started in middle school. It was at this time that I learned about the LGBTQ+ community, and I quickly became a firm ally. Which brought my next question: Why isn’t there a place for queer people in church? I asked my mom and my dad (the bishop at the time) and they both gave me the same answer: God hasn’t revealed everything he is going to reveal, so just have faith and put it on a shelf. And I did, I “doubted my doubts” and moved on.
I wasn’t happy to be in church from the point on. I made it a point to keep members of the church out of my social life, because they were too suffocating. I still served my callings and attended seminary and did the things I was supposed to. Then the summer after my sophomore year, I realized that I was actually queer myself (shocker). How was I supposed to “put it on a shelf” now?
From this moment on, I put distance between myself on the church. I started to develop my own morals and political opinions, and synchronously started to see the many flaws of the church. But I couldn’t just forget the years and years of LDS knowledge I had, so I started digging deeper.
I did my research, from sources inside the church and out. The breaking point, as I’m sure it was for many, was the CES letter. I read it all in one night, and cried through the whole thing. Nothing had ever seemed as definitive as that did before. For one last time, I prayed more sincerely than I ever has before for an answer. Nothing. And I haven’t looked back since. I haven’t stopped researching and learning, of course, because I hope maybe my knowledge on this discourse can help other find the truth.
I grew up stalwart and ignorant. I went to church on Sundays, I went to all the many, MANY extracurricular programs. I did everything I was required to do. But by the time I went to college I had yet to read the BoM, and I knew basically nothing below the surface of *insert spongebob rainbow gif* Mormonism. So when I went to BYUI for my sophomore year of college, I got CALLED OUT by my accounting professor who spent like 80% of our accounting class preaching. How dare I not know the answers to every question he asked about Mormon theology!!! So I took every religion class offered by BYUI to those who had yet to go through the temple.
Annnnnnd the more classes I took, the more absolutely batshit I saw the Church to be. Beyond that, I'm queer af, and I was decidedly in favor of dying over continuing to be queer af. But in 2014, I made one last-ditch effort to be a good, female, straight, Morman woman. I married a man I had known for 30 days flat, I moved back to Rexburg, and I made plans to go through the temple. In the next six months, I was trapped in my apartment and held hostage, became destitute, was raped at will by my husband, kept confined in my own bathroom at times, and gathered $25,000 in debt because my husband neither went to work nor let me go to work but somehow thought we could still live luxuriously.
On Halloween, I called the police, who escorted me out of my apartment and away from my husband, who I then put on a plane back to his mother's house. A month later I also ended up back in our hometown, where my parents took over the role of controlling my every move, who I talked to, who I saw, where I went, etc. In May 2015, I killed myself amid the stalking and controlling behavior of my husband and parents. After three months of inpatient to outpatient intensive to outpatient group to outpatient general, with my parents still developing and pushing their six month plan to reuniting with and being sealed to my abusive husband. At the point at which they said I should get my endowments, I finally told them that it wasn't happening, and I wasn't going to be Mormon anymore, at which point they forbade me from telling my sister lest I lead her astray (eye roll).
A friend of mine needed a live in nanny, and had she not, I'd likely be in my parents' basement, still trying to kill myself every week, being told who to talk to and when to eat, sleep, shit, and take my pills. Instead, I am happily married, in a PhD program (I was told I'd never graduate college, live on my own, or be independent), happy, mostly healthy for a multi-disabled dude, and able to live as the queer trans man I am.
The Church thrives on controlling, manipulative, abusive behavior, and the longer I'm away from it, the creepier things seem that used to seem completely and totally normal to me, like being an 8 year old girl getting asked behind a closed door by a middle-aged man if I had any sins to confess, like what?????
I'm happier than I ever thought was even possible. I was a Mormon.
I struggled with the factual claims made by the church from a young age, Noah's Ark couldn't be literal even though the church said otherwise. Zero archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon bothered me when I was 7. But I kept on going with it just to not make waves and disrupt the family. As I got older even more things bothered me such as polygamy, polyandry, church leader's lies historically and more recently, and many other historical and social issues that the church was very much on the wrong side of. But, it wasn't until after my divorce that I finally had enough. I couldn't take how false, cruel, and bigoted the church and its members were anymore so I left.
I had my name removed from the records in 2015 when the Policy of Exclusion was leaked. That was the straw that broke the camels back. By that point, I had been "out" (as in as a gay person) for 11 years, and I was tired of being celibate and being told that I would be "fixed" in the next life, and that there was something inherently wrong with me. I was tired of having monthly worthiness interviews to make sure I wasn't doing anything inappropriate. I had also felt that my internal gender did not match the body I had been born with since I was little. It was constantly reiterated in conference and Sacrament talks that gender is eternal, and that mistakes are not made. However, it made me feel extremely suicidal to think that the only way I would ever be “right” was after I was dead. After I had my name removed, I started finding out about the fact that there were 4 different versions of the First Vision, and that Joseph had married 14 year olds. I found out about the "rock in the hat", and all of the REAL history of the church. My mind was blown and I was pissed. I couldn't believe I had believed all that crap for so many years.
The first time I personally ever had doubts was when I went to the temple for the first time in the 1980s. The whole concept of the temple was a great thing I thought at the time. Here I could be sealed to my family forever. Here I could help others who never had a chance to receive "ordinances" necessary for salvation receive them. When I actually went through to get my own endowment however, I was horrified by what went on, but I didn't say anything--similar to many Mormons. Not only was there nothing spiritual about the experience, the way the endowment is presented smells of cultism. You are instructed early on in the endowment that you can withdrawal rather than go through the ceremony. Of course no one withdrawals because you have no idea what is going to happen, you have your family and friends all sitting around you. Nothing of substance has happened yet to incline anyone to withdrawal. The next thing you know, you have taken a series of vows in unison with everyone else which hardly resemble anything you normally do in your LDS experience. Before 1990, you also had extreme penalties associated with the violation of any of these vows.
My wishful thinking got the better of me, and I continued to attend the temple--thinking that it was only my lack of understanding that caused me severe discomfort every time I went through a session. Then I saw a show on the masons, and I realized that Joseph Smith did a little more than invent the endowment on his own or somehow receive a "revelation" that enabled him to establish the endowment. I saw one explanation at the time claiming that he told others that he was restoring the corrupted portions of the endowment that had been lost and that the masons traced their ceremonies all the way back to the Temple of Solomon. I bought the explanation (hook, line, and sinker) at the time as I was a good little Mormon boy who would be going on a mission soon. Recently I found out this couldn't possibly be true based on my research of Freemasonry. In addition, many of the newer parts of the Masonic rituals (those created after the 16th Century) were incorporated into the endowment which shows that Joseph Smith borrowed rather than "restored" the temple endowment.
On my mission, several other doubts arose in me which I won't go into here. I did a similar cover up of each of those doubts like I did with the temple endowment explanation and tried to forget them. Then in 1990, the temple endowment changed. At first, I thought this was a great thing. I figured the experience would be more spiritual and less of a pain to go through. The more I went through the new endowment sessions, however, the more I realized that the changes made seemed more like an effort of the church to become politically correct rather than do things based on "revelation".
After getting married and graduating from BYU, I planned to just ignore my doubts and try not to raise any new ones to avoid any possible confrontations or conflicts with my wife. I should say at this point that I still had a good testimony during this period regardless of the doubts. It just wasn't a "perfect" testimony as it once was or seemed to be. I still didn't realize that "testimony" and the means by which Mormon testimonies are developed are very poor methods of discovering truth. I thought my wife would probably divorce me if she knew I had doubts so I never talked about them with her.
As time went on I felt I was living in a lie. I had to have my doubts resolved in order to obtain a stronger testimony. My first kid was on the way, and I didn't want to be a hypocrite in teaching him like I sometimes felt when teaching or giving a talk in the church.
I started doing some research into the temple endowment and the Book of Abraham--my two biggest problems with the Mormon church at the time. I won't go into any detail here in describing my ultimate findings and conclusions. Suffice it to say that after doing a great deal of research, I no longer had any doubts. The church could not possibly say that these two portions of the "gospel" are true and be true itself. There are many other doctrines I found to be untrue and many doctrines which I have found to have "evolved" over time rather than being "restored" as the church claims.
I don't want this brief history of myself to sound like I believe the Mormon church is completely 'evil' or somehow worse than other religious institutions. Some people may live happier and productive lives by being active participants in their faith than would otherwise be the case. However, the LDS church should not purport to be something that it is not--thus deceiving its own members. The church is a product of evolution and wishful thinking like the rest of Christianity. It is not based on revelation and restoration.
After forty-three years of clinging to the faith, I resigned my membership of the Church in 2003 for no other reason than I could no longer hold to a belief in God. I retired in February of 2006 and on the day following our move to a smaller home, I came across a one-hundred-year-old booklet that I had owned since the nineteen-sixties. It was written by Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., (who later became the tenth Mormon prophet) entitled “Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage.” Essentially, it is a series of published letters between Smith and Mr. Evans, who was at the time Second Counsellor in the Presidency of the ‘Reorganised’ or RLDS Church (now Community of Christ). It contains the affidavits of several wives of Joseph Smith, confirming his polygamy.
Although I had resigned membership of the Mormon Church three years earlier, due only to the fact I could not hold on to a belief in God, I had never considered why the Mormon Church was not actually true. It had never even occurred to me to look. I assumed Joseph Smith to have been a good, albeit deluded man. Out of idle curiosity, I decided to check how many wives Joseph Smith actually did have, as I was only aware of about a dozen from the booklet and the Mormon Church keeps very quiet about polygamy. I located thirty-three plural wives and confirmed that they were accepted by Church historians. Then, to my horror, I discovered that several of the women already had husbands when Smith married them. This conflicted with everything I had been taught about Church polygamy.
I was no longer a Mormon, but I contacted a friend who is an Apostle in the Mormon Church and also had discussions with a friend in the First Quorum of Seventy. The Church confirmed to me that polyandry (a word I had never even heard of before) is contrary to Mormon theology, yet I had evidence that Joseph Smith practiced it and thus contravened doctrine. Something was seriously and alarmingly wrong. My research continued and the nightmare started to unfold. Day after devastating day, I discovered more and more of the truth. I somehow had to face and accept and then deal with the fact that Joseph Smith was a fraud who deliberately created a hoax to satisfy his own ambitions. Every single Mormon claim that I investigated was demonstrably not true. What hurts the most is that the truth behind the hoax of the Mormon Church is still deliberately and knowingly hidden from rank and file members even today, through falsified history and selective teachings.
I sent my evidence to the Church leaders and they promised a response. Later, they asked for more time to research my findings. As the evidence mounted in so many areas in addition to the polyandry that I had accidentally stumbled across, I advised Church leaders that I felt an obligation to publish my findings. I offered to send full details for them to comment on. To date I have not had any further replies to my letters. I can only do what I can to share my findings and writing has been my therapy. My devastating journey has at least provided a series of five books which I hope may help a few others to more fully understand and appreciate the facts that the Mormon Church continues to conspire to hide from the faithful.
My present state of mind is encapsulated in the following comments:
Mainly different leaders and Bishops spreading lies and finding out jesus was not jesus.
As I began my own study of church history using uncorrelated but still faithful sources I was quickly surrounded by new things which troubled me. I found ways to make things work for years as I continued trying to learn all that I could about our history and probably would have made it work too but the biggest issue that I found was that when I tried to have conversations with members about the new things I had learned, they either didn't want to know (active information avoidance), didn't want to talk about it (were struggling to deal with the same issues) or worse, tried to engage and ended up passing on troubling responses which caused me to have more concerns than before. More than any specific issue it was the general response to questions and doubts that began to feel very cultish and half-examined. During that time I also began to explore spiritual traditions outside mormonism and began to be spiritually nourished from dozens of sources I would have never considered. The loss of certainty opened a whole new stage of curiosity and rediscovery of God and what it means to live a moral life. Eventually I left mormonism because I found something better. I didn’t leave because I stopped seeing God present in Mormonism, but because I started to recognize the divine in everything else too.
I have had a nagging question in my mind since I was ten. The memory is still fresh. I was leaving the pew behind my siblings at Christmas time. I stopped in my tracks and thought "why hasn't anyone found any evidence of the Book of Mormon yet?" We were learning about the Aztec in school and it triggered my thought. My ten year old brain brushed it off as, "it will show up later" and went to class. But the evidence never showed up. I tried to be the best mormon I could for my family. I didn't want to disappoint them. Looking back now, I felt the spirit depending on my depression. If I was trying to numb my emotions I wouldn't be moved to tears by the spirit. I thought I was a sinner because I didn't feel anything. As my depression started to get better and I allowed myself to feel again, I would get caught up in the emotions of the room and call it the spirit.
My patriarchal blessing states that if I was faithful I would have child in the Covent. I would find a worthy priesthood holder to get married to. When I did get married, the sealer told us that he saw that we had met in heaven, and were friends and made promises to each other to find each other and help and grow. We were going to have kids together. We were going to live a long and happy life together. But you know where this is going... 5 years later, there are no children despite being faithful. Ex husband has a birth defect that caused complete infertility on his end. I had my own problems that never resolved despite lots of medicine and time and money.
There was one time in my marriage where there was a strong chance I could of been pregnant (being knowing about the defect). I had tested and there was two lines. I tested again and again two lines. I prayed and asked God if this was real. I went and did a session as soon as I could because I wanted to talk to God in the celestial room. I sat there in meditation for a good hour until I was sure I had received the answer I was meant to receive. And that was, yes you are pregnant. I wanted to be really sure, so a week later I took a digital pregnancy test and it was negative. I blamed myself that I misheard God wrong.
We adopted because that's what the church wanted. I wanted to get donors. We did church because he was the male and had the final say. But God should of known what he promised us. My ex and I drifted apart as he took started acting like a Utah Mormon Male, arrogant and always right. He finally came out as pansexual and we decide to separate so he could be happy. If we were suppose to be together, as the sealer told me that he saw, why is this happening? Why did he let us get together and adopt a child together if we were just going to separate later?
I was already on my way out when we separated. I had dealt with a lot of misogyny with my Utah and AZ wards. I hold a M.Ed in STEAM Education and have a decades worth of experience in the classroom and I was expected to take teaching education classes through the church from someone who's reading out of a book. Any real life suggestion I made was turned down, but any male suggestion was taken. Don't worry it was uncomfortably mentioned and laughed at that I should be teaching these classes but can't because I'm a female. God also apparently always wanted me to be a primary teacher and a primary pianist. My occupation is Elementary Music Teacher. Not suspicious.
I found myself correcting my child's church lessons to what I wanted her to learn. I.e. you are not chewed gum or using up your heart, whenever you decide it's right for you please make sure you're safe and with the right person. I felt like I was brainwashing children in primary. I hated that I was teaching them things I didn't believe in anymore.
When my ex and I decided to officially separate, I left the church about 3 months afterwards. I kept my word at got the kids to the primary program, turned in my binder and never went back. I started looking at the CES letter for the first time. Right in the beginning of the letter, my now twenty year long question was being answered. And it's being answered by learned men of science. I believe in science and the black and white of it. These people said that there is zero evidence of the Book of Mormon ever exsisting. My shelf broke right there.
A year after I returned from my mission I started having anxiety attacks during sacrament meeting. I was serving as a counsellor in the relief society presidency of my YSA ward, working a weekly shift in the temple, and trying to pass my BYU classes while also working part time. Church was supposed to be a safe place full of peace and rest, so why was it the most stressful part of my week? I had friends, a fulfilling calling, and was living the standards perfectly. I did only my religion homework on Sundays, read the scriptures in my mission language daily, and had never tried even a sip of coffee or alcohol. I'd been taught that if you lived the standards and had faith, the Spirit would be with you always and you would find true joy. So why was my heart pounding during "How Great Thou Art" and my mind telling me to run? There was no rational explanation for what was happening, but it got to a point where I couldn't ignore it.
The week after a particularly insensitive fifth Sunday meeting on finding an Eternal Companion (BYU lol), I decided to skip church without a good reason for the first time in my life. I felt guilty, but that guilt felt soooo much better than the intense anxiety I normally felt on Sundays. I started trying to understand why I was having such a negative experience at church. After lots of prayer and scripture study, and continued church attendance, I still didn't have an answer. Then the pandemic started and church went online. After a few weeks of glitchy meetings I stopped attending. The anxiety and guilt I normally felt on Sundays went away.
A few months later, graduated and out of Utah, I finally had the thought; What if it isn't true? I'd read the gospel topics essays when they came out. I'd served a mission. I'd seen miracles, felt the gift of tongues. But suddenly I realised that nothing that I truly and completely believed was exclusive to the LDS church. I stepped back and started examining my faith from an objective perspective. What did I truly believe, and why? What did the church teach?
I believe that there is a God and that he loves all humans as his children. I believe that most of the teachings of Jesus show the "right" way to live - with kindness and selflessness. But I was never comfortable with the teachings on the priesthood, the restoration of the gospel, prophets, and the temple ceremonies, despite working hard to try and accept them. As a woman and engineering student I also never liked the church's stance on gender equality, and the roles of women in God's perfect plan of happiness. While trying to understand my faith I also realised that I'm asexual, so the whole marriage to a man and bearing children for eternity was another point of concern.
Eventually, I allowed myself to research historical problems with the church and interact with other former believers. In this community I have found clarity, reason, love, support, and happiness. I feel free. I'm living the way that makes me happy, and in a way that allows me to love other people without judgement or ulterior motive.
So after I married my husband I was very hopeful to bring him to the temple. But with my less fanatic spirit I never forced him and he is very kind and always supported me with the church activities. He always sent and pick me up from church. But it was getting difficult for me after 3 years living with him. I was disappointed in God why did he sent me non member husband. But beside that he is a very nice guy. I don’t feel belong in this new ward. I started to question the church doctrines like the concept of family can be together forever. I just don’t get how are we going to be together when our children will have family of their own. And beside I don’t really want to be with my parents. I decided to be less active spiritually. I didn’t read the scriptures as often and I started to don’t wear my garments as often. In my head I think I was tired of waiting for my husband to find interest in the church and he is still so kind to me. And he is kind without expecting rewards from heaven. He is just kind as a human and it hit me so bad.
Then I fell pregnant. I keep thinking about the future of my baby. What kind of life I want her to have. And as I pictured it I don’t think church is actually a happy place to stay. Then one day I discovered the masonry handshakes how it is similar to the temple handshakes. I already feel so weird about the handshakes in the temple and to found out about it online I was so upset. I dig deeper and that’s lead me to this exmormon or anti-Mormon literature.
It was difficult leaving the church. I have already caused damaged to the people in my village. I already losing my childhood friends and family and now to encountered another same experience, I’m glad I’m out while im still in my 30s.
My life now is pretty simple focusing on the goodness of everyday life without making it complicated to think about what’s life after death. Doing good thing and be decent human being without expecting anything in return. Love selflessly.
I always struggled with gender roles in the church. Because I'm trans, gender has always been a big deal for me, even at a subconscious level as aa little kid. I remember looking at the boys passing the sacrament and thinking "Why can't I do that, it shouldn't matter that I'm a girl." That was probably the first time I questioned the church. Growing up I didn't question much, until I was around 12. That's when I moved to a place where the vast majority of my best friends were not in the church. Pretty soon into my 7th grade year I also realized I was in the LGBTQ+ community, and I found out the church's views on it. By the summer before my 8th grade year I was completely ready to leave the church. This want to leave was only solidified by my cousin Jessie, an exmormon, and his older sister Sylvia who's trans feminine and also an exmormon. Jessie and I talked a lot the summer before my 8th grade year and he helped me to really realize that I could have a life outside the Mormon church.
This all started with a search on polygamy. After becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the sorry state of families I see in polygamy in my workplace, I had to know about the real origin. How did it come about.
Now I know.
It’s a horrible practice that I cannot even fathom came from the Lord. No God who loves his daughters would command that they submit to a life so bereft of dignity, companionship and honor. And if the Mormon god truly commanded it—and will yet make the “saints” adhere to it in any future, I want NO part of it, or that god.
JS had at least 33 wives. Many of whom he told, “The Lord appointed you to me.” And, “An angel commanded me with a drawn sword and the threat of death if YOU do not submit...” Ugh.
Reading these first hand accounts from some of these women’s journals makes me physically ill. So I continued to read and search.
I no longer believe that JS was a prophet. And Brigham Young is just this side of evil to me.
People don’t say “God”, thinking that’s taking the Lord’s name in vain. Nope, I think that reference is reserved for those of JS and BY’s ilk—claiming “Gods work” to explain all sorts of nefarious and despicable acts. How can one preach agency and then take it away from young women concerning one’s choice of mates? Eeeewww. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Blood atonement preached alongside of “love thy neighbor” is the most putrid kind of blasphemy as far as I’m concerned.
If it ended—or didn’t even start—with JS, where does that leave us Mormons? We—they—are a good people. They have good morals and values, they uphold the law. Now. They serve others. They have blind faith. Which brings me to my opening statement—faith is for things NOT seen.
And I’ve seen so much Mormon history that doesn’t jive with what we’ve been told for many generations.
From polygamy, I read about the Kinderhook plates, in which JS was caught in a lie—he “translated” fake plates. A neighbor constructed them with fake hieroglyphics. Then from there I learned about the 1967 papyri find in the NY Met. Thomas Ferguson was so excited to finally have proof that JS was indeed able to translate “reformed Egyptian”. Nope, he didn’t get a word correct, and even identified what are clearly women, as men in one of the facsimiles. The book of Abraham is a fraud.
Google has made research sooooo much easier.
It took two days of reading for me to decide. I was horrified.....and relieved.
And now I’m happier than I’ve ever been outside that cult, I can think for myself
I could no longer sit next to my wife in sacrament meeting and listen to the rhetoric from people proclaiming their “knowledge” of the truthfulness of the church, when I now see clearly that it is a house of cards, build upon lies snd deceit. I love so many of the people in my ward, but that wasn’t enough to keep me their. I had to be honest and authentic to the truth I now know!
In Brian Hales book, he also talks about Joseph’s martyrdom, which the background and information surrounding Joseph Smith’s death indicates that the “martyrdom” is basically brought on from Joseph secretly practicing polygamy. Wait a minute…being killed because you were secretly practicing polygamy and destroying the printing press to conceal it led to Joseph’s murder? That’s not martyrdom. In those days it was vigilante justice and if the men in the town thought you were after their wives or their girls they were going to kill you. That's how they took care of it. And the premiere Mormon apologist is printing this evidence in a book? I’ve never heard that talked about in Sunday School. I wrote a paper while attending BYU about the, “Times and Seasons,” the Mormon newspaper and, “The Nauvoo Expositor.” I’ve read what was printed in the Nauvoo expositor. It wasn’t lies. I’d read it. It was a portion of what is now our D&C revelation on celestial marriage, which includes plural marriage. William Laws also reported in that paper that Joseph Smith had secretly married polygamously, a young girl in their household, which was living with them because her mom died and the Smith’s took her in. Brian Hales book corroborated this story. I had always been taught that William Laws printed lies and Joseph was trying to protect the people by having that printing press destroyed. What I learned every four years in gospel doctrine was false. Via the “Nauvoo Expositor,” William Laws is outing Joseph for secretly marrying in a polygamous marriage a young girl who he was basically her foster father. (I would have done the same thing!) I can still handle the fact that Joseph Smith didn’t necessarily die a martyr. But I’m sitting in gospel doctrine, with the gospel doctrine teacher telling this story, and I had to walk out. Because the lesson manual is misleading and completely false saying that William Law was printing vicious lies. I’ve read quotes from the paper. What he printed was true. Add to that, the fact that from the church apologist, himself, this was true…and we’re still teaching it wrong via the manual? But I can’t open my mouth and say anything because I know if I suggested William law was printing the truth and a lot of Joseph’s death was because he was practicing secret polygamy I would cause a ruckus in my Mormon Sunday School class. I have to sit and listen or leave. I started losing my voice in class. I didn’t lose my testimony over this, but the more I studied actual Mormon history, the more I realized many events are not being fully taught or taught falsely in gospel doctrine classes.
The more I studied, the more Sunday school and Relief Society meetings became treacherous for me, on even basic LDS topics. Especially the Joseph Smith story because they leave all the crazy stuff Joseph did out of class discussion and only tell the good things that we perceive that he did. Leaving important details out of a story is DISNONEST. I can cut Joseph some slack because people make mistakes. I'm never going to agree that polygamy was of God, we don’t practice it now I’m thinking, so I don’t have to worry about it. The fact that LDS church history is messy has never been my main problem. It’s the fact that we don’t openly talk about or teach it, or allow members to come to their own conclusions about what was right and what was wrong after we’ve researched the facts. I can’t raise my hand in gospel doctrine and say, “I’ve studied this, I’ve prayed about it and I know that Joseph Smith’s polygamy wasn’t of God.” I can’t say what I actually think. This is a huge red flag. It means as an LDS member, I’m not allowed critical inquiry. I didn’t know that term at the time, but I do now. Critical inquiry means I get to look at the facts (from any source on either side, although I stuck to church sources at this time) and I get to interpret the facts myself. If I come to a different answer than the church, I can voice that without fear of offense or being in trouble for my views. That’s what critical inquiry is. I couldn’t do that in the LDS/Mormon church. No being allowed critical inquiry is the #1 sign of a cult. I did not know the signs of a cult at that time. I just knew I was suffering in silence without being able to have my own interpretation on the facts. And that felt terrible.
Eventually, I let the Joseph Smith studies go and turned my focus on the study of the Book of Mormon because it says in the scriptures “by their fruits you shall know them.” I decided to just zero in on the Book of Mormon. And a dedicated study to that renders it non historical. Even the UVU church historian just in March of 2020 admitted when asked, he said, “yeah there's no evidence that the Book of Mormon actually happened.” I won't get into the DNA essay, here, but if you understand simple genetics it is very misleading. And I don’t even have a problem with the BOM not being historical. I think to myself, I can still look at it symbolically. It can still be scripture to me. I taught Relief Society and was very careful to always say, “In the story…” (because I knew it was likely just a story). I could let this go. The problem, for me, was the fact that I couldn’t discuss my findings or conclusions at church or with other members. No professional outside of the .02% active Mormon population believes that the Book of Mormon is historical…meaning no one with a science or history degree thinks the stories in the book really happened. The cognitive dissonance at church starts affecting me inside. This means that I have to jump through mental hoops to say I believe Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon truth claims. I want to believe, but I also can’t discount historical truth. The fact that I can’t talk about true facts out in the open, at this time, continues to be a thorn in my side.
I switch my focus of study again to try to make this work. Next, I researched the book of Abraham and found that the pictures I was taught as a kid that was Abraham being sacrificed were actually funerary texts of some unknown person. I can’t talk about that openly, either. And I find out that the church changes the words in the scriptures under the picture from “translation to revelation.” Because they know there's no way they can back up saying Joseph Smith translated it when it's a funerary text that has nothing to do about Abraham. And then I'm seeing red flags of dishonesty from the church, which was definitely not being transparent here, in the beginning. People that I believe represent and talk to God for me are changing the scriptures instead of saying Joseph got it wrong? I look at all these great people in the neighborhood, the type of people I'd want my kids to marry, what great experiences my daughter is having on her mission, the morality, the good, the service, the community… I think to myself, I’ll just have to look at everything symbolically to stay in and I do, but I have to keep my thoughts to myself.
I won’t go into every topic here, but this a short list: godhead, which included a study of the four versions of the first visions way before they came online on lds.org. But even though that's been taught now what they don't teach is that in the beginning they didn't consider Jesus and God and the Holy Ghost three separate beings and when they decided to change that theology in Mormon doctrine that's also the same time that the version where Jesus Christ and God the Father are separate people comes in. Which doesn't necessarily mean it's not true, I’ve always given the church the benefit of the doubt, but it is highly suspicious, and it's not included or being taught. I studied origins of theology such as apostasy, 30 plus events leading up to the restoration, the restoration of the priesthood, polarity of God's, God the father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, Satan existence, the creation and the Fall, the gospel plan, how the temple started, work for the dead, the Gathering of Israel, the second coming, the Millennium, the resurrection, tithing origins, word or wisdom origins, etc. I studied all of these doctrines and how they came to be where they are today in the Mormon church. We're talking thousands of hours of study at this point so I'll spare you the details but even the BYU professors who wrote the books say that all of those doctrines came about because of things that were going on in the church or the nearby community at the time. The leaders made changes according to what they wanted to teach and the doctrine was morphing and changing ALL the time. And none of it was really revelation. It was the creation of a theology that morphed and changed over time to what we have today. And very few of those topics were the way I learned them, meaning even the story of how the Melchizedek priesthood was restored, was told differently in the early church. It morphed and changed. All the topics did. The 3 degrees of glory, was taken from another preacher during that time period that Joseph liked. And I’m thinking…”What the FUCK?”
Is there anything I learned in my LDS life that I was taught the full truth on? I can cut slack on Joseph Smith. I can cut slack on Book of Mormon. Now I have to look the other way on the all the other topics, too? And I can’t talk about it openly or disagree? The last three years, my focus has been more on the bible, Old and New testament, and as far as historicity goes, the bible doesn’t fare much better than the Book of Mormon in terms of historicity.
I stumbled upon the CES letter and "letter for my wife" by accident. Once I opened them and began reading, it gave me a voracious and undeniable appetite for all things church history to determine for myself what really happened. As I discovered the differences between the church's doctored and edited version and everyone else's, I quickly saw that the church was protecting its own interests at the expense of lying to millions of people for no reason other than to protect their image and continue taking others' time and money.
This need for evidence and rationality has since convinced me that the Bible is not from God and that if there is some force out there, it is certainly not what any religions describe it to be.
It was clear to me that I had been deceived and for the first time I was able to question what had been as much a part of my life as breathing. Once it entered my brain that the church could possibly be a fabrication, it all fell into place very easily. The church claims the Book of Mormon is the last stand, the one thing testimonies ride on when everything else has been questioned and dismantled, the Book of Mormon stands. Does it though? If most everything BUT the Book of Mormon has been disproven or cast into suspicion, does that rationalize staying in a religion which holds on to the one thing that has yet to be 100% proven false, even though it has its problems as well. So that domino fell too, and there was nothing left to defend the church.
I'm anticipating a transfer to a different university, since I am enrolled at BYU. It's intimidating for sure, but I am convinced it is a folly to devote oneself to a religion wholly and unquestioningly. It is the most important thing to live a life full of love, happiness, and new experiences. If the church doesn't give you those, start running.
I was inactive for almost 20 years. Eventually the ward members left us alone. A couple of years ago, i stumbled on the Post Mormon facebook pages, learned about the CES letter, and all of the lies of the church. I resigned my membership in April 2019, and have never been happier!
I always made sure I appeared the way I was taught to be, but deep down there was a piece of me I couldn't put into words or thoughts. I was in denial of my sexuality and continued to listen to church teachings and I began to demonize myself. It was a struggle because I 100% believed the teachings I was conditioned to believe/know. I knew nothing else. I finally began blogging around the time I was supposed to go on a mission and that's when I really began to find myself. Later on I found the CES letter and that really opened my eyes and I realized I had just been conditioned my whole life. I hadn't had my own thoughts or beliefs yet. I have finally began finding myself.
If you are interested, my blog is www.talesofananxioussoul.blogspot.com
I started blogging before I left the church so its cool to see the evolution from the beginning. I hope I am able to help at least one person in their faith transition. <3
one last strain of craze...my final testimony
.....truly....it is finished.
May 10th, 2014
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
50 East North Temple St.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
To the First Presidency and Quorum of 12:
Until recently, I like many others who have become disaffected from the fairy tale of the LDS church…suffered alone…. completely alone in the knowledge that my God given intellect provided to me. I cannot express adequately the sorrow, the gasping loss of family and the faith crushing effects of discovering the house of cards that comprised my 30-year association in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am beyond my capacity to endure this...
I was moved initially by the comments of a poster on Craigslist in 2009. If you are at all familiar with it, some of it may be reflected here in this post. It is now May of 2015 and I am living in the ruble of a destroyed marriage, loss of children and grandchildren, the disapproval of thousands in my community and much more than can be elicited here…all in the name of the “only true Church on the face of the earth”. The delusional, ludicrous nature of that claim by the LDS church is incomprehensible to my mind. As my sister has coined…. these are not Latter Day Saints, but Lucifer’s Dedicated Servants. After all…he does make more than a cameo appearance in the temple video with his fear mongering….”if any of you fail to live up to these covenants made here this day….yada yada yada …you will be in my power”. Wow…if the church is true, do you really need Satan to threaten you? Wouldn’t the Holy Ghost provide that confirmation without needing Satan to threaten you?? Why does he get air time at the end…and not Christ explaining “grace as a result of his sacrifice” and that it is available to all men who come to him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit??
In September of 2013 I was released as a YSA Bishop and at that time, I was fully active, fully worthy, and fully deceived. I remained active solely for the sake of immediate and extended family unity (my wife’s side), and to preserve my marriage, and honored my calling as a YSA Bishop. The fact was that at the time, I did not have the courage to act upon my knowledge about the LDS Church’s skew/fraudulent history and doctrine. I revealed my lack of courage regarding the inevitable to my mother in July of 2012. She had seen the concern in my countenance at their 60th anniversary in 2010… and predicted then what the outcome would be. She patiently listened and counseled me with “is it better to live in a broken home than to be in a broken home”. Kind of a new take on what Robin Williams said in “I always thought the worst thing in life would be to be alone, but I’ve learned that the worst thing is to be around people who make you feel alone”. The reality of life in the Mormon culture is you wake up guilty, feeling inadequate and go to bed recognizing that you haven’t done enough. The emphasis on imperfection destroys any chance at living life in accord with how you were designed by God. Living with laughter (even loud) and levity, is no sin. Being happy according to the dictates of your own conscience is not a sin either. It is how God created you.
All of the aforementioned and much more had created a considerable dilemma for both the church and myself. As a Bishop and in my counseling with YSA from 18-30ish….it was more than apparent that I was not alone in this. The vast majority of the youth falls into the same problematic rut of wondering…what really was the church founded on. Lies?? Why in Jacob 2 in the Book of Mormon and several other places is it stated that it is an abomination to have more than one wife or concubine…and be the most “correct book on the earth”….all at the same time? And then we have Joseph Smith saying in the 132nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants that it’s okay, and even better…it’s a commandment???? You as a body of “leadership” know this contradiction in doctrine (and many more) and yet provide no spiritual or clear solutions. You prefer to discover and establish business investments that generate income, rather than retain individuals and provide spiritual food. It’s no wonder that the best and brightest are leaving…. along with their tithing dollars.
This letter, therefore, is an appeal for your consideration of my personal dilemma. Kind of a new take of “and if you should save one soul how great shall be your joy”, and to serve as a witness against you who as a body of leadership, consistently fail to act honestly. If history repeats itself, as it always does… you will not respond and continue to put your head in the sand, hoping that this is just “one” and will somehow just go away. I will NOT go away. I don’t have to be a multi billion-dollar corporation to have an effective social media campaign. Generally, something that resonates with truth will develop a momentum that money cannot buy. So we’ll have to see where this goes…and if I can influence just one…..how great shall be MY joy!!!
The tempo of occurrence of departure is multiplying exponentially. The church is experiencing the same apostasy…. that they teach, a falling away as a result of a corrupt leadership from within. Again…you know this and in your rigid, antiquated stance are helpless to address this. You’ve completely lost touch with not only God, but with yourselves as human beings. Your delusional claim of having some sort of widened conduit or bandwidth as a result of your so called prophet, who in reality is so dementia ridden he can’t decide which sock to put on first in the morning - no longer has validity in not only my life but in the lives of the majority of members. Wake up. Is anyone conscious enough to listen?? Holland?? Bednar?? Christofferson??? Oaks?? I list you specifically as I once hung on your words. Only to discover that you have become cunning and filled with sophistry of words to deceive or cloud truth.
I initially intended to write this letter anonymously because I feared the power of your unrighteous dominion. I don’t fear you or your Trojan horse behavior. Each of you has mastered the theology of DC 121:39 regarding unrighteous dominion and power. You represent the living examples of that doctrine. You have no authority over anyone whatsoever, and no validity as prophets, seers and revelators - and I retract any sustaining that took place in the course of my time in the church. I have repented of sustaining you with the Savior, repented of my misguided behavior and lack of discernment: having abdicated at one time… my agency to the LDS church. I have since recovered that, after resigning my membership and have never felt more whole, more connected/consecrated to the Savior and never felt more eager to serve those around me.
This is the result of having discovered truth……a natural desire to serve God’s children. IF….truly IF the LDS church was true, Home Teaching would not be a dismal single digit statistic across America (and falling). Truly, sacrament-meeting attendance would not hover in the 30% range (again…falling every year). Literally, if truth had/has been restored….the wards would have people beating down the doors to get in and receive the word. Remember that thing about….every knee shall bend and every mouth confess…..Look it up. The soul does indeed recognize truth.
I have a testimony that the soul, the human soul will recognize truth…. something you all fear. You fear the truth as history records it from multiple/verifiable sources. And yet, with all your professed inspiration and revelation, you have NO solution to the ever-increasing collapse of failed programs to proclaim the truth to the ends of the earth. Why??? Because you are NOT lead by inspiration or revelation.
I am disgusted by your tactics, yes they are premeditated tactics… and I no longer forcibly serve you. I no longer live under that cloud of shame and guilt and imperfection. You’re pathetic banner of agency (and how to enforce it) will serve as little protection to you as the truth unfolds in this and subsequent generations. It will not be well with you at the last day either. I will add that you don’t know enough about me to form an opinion as to who I am and the decibels I can reach with my voice, both audibly and digitally in proclaiming real truth to the world.
I am writing with the intent that I might somehow divest myself from the animosity I feel in having been robbed of 30 years of my life. For having had my family stolen from me as a result of the cumulative effect of reinforced lies from your leadership. I am writing in the futile hope that you (or anyone with a shred of leadership and conscience) will care enough to respond in a Christ like manner to this growing and unavoidable tragedy within the church; the tragedy of those who know the truth and cannot act upon it without destroying their families.
Human souls are at stake here…Unfortunately, in my case….my family has been destroyed. I lost all hope and reason as a result of the subtle craftiness and sophistry that exists within the so called “inspired words” of the likes of Jeffrey R. Holland, Neal A Maxwell, Gordon B. Hinckley, Dallin H. Oaks, Boyd K. Packer, Boyd K Packer, Henry B Eyring, Thomas S. Monson and many others. Just because you as a leader have not been included here does not give you a free pass. I especially refer to the Nazi like dogma from David Bednar and Boyd K Packer. Their constant fixation on sexual matters reeks of personal unresolved shame and guilt and the projection of it. What a pathetic excuse for goodness and honesty they are. In so many cases you all, are nothing more than another ladder climbing, self serving, egotistical puppets of a mentally deranged, dementia ridden so called prophet of God.
Speaking of which…when was the last time you heard him or any other GA publicly state that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God? When was the last time any of you address the inspiration that became Polygamy and Polyandry over the pulpit. Bednar, Holland, Oaks and the rest of the elite in the first presidency, quorum of 12 and the many quorums of 70, area authorities and local so called leadership are spineless to address this topic with the spirit of tenderness and honesty that was the hallmark of Christ’s ministry. At the last day, your money will not insulate you from the judgment of God.
If this was the gospel of Christ restored, then the history of its restoration wouldn’t be such a grey area or stifled by the church. Millions if not billions wouldn’t be spent on acquiring authentic documents to ultimately hide, obscure and sanitize the truth.
Here’s an FYI……there is no secrecy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. None. No admittance fee to the temple…and for that matter…no need for temples as God does not dwell in temples made with hands. Acts 17:24. Shocked?? You should be, since you don’t consider the Bible as having any real relevance, unless you can find some obscure Old Testament scripture to validate the Book of Mormon. Whatever….most don’t even know that over 500+ verses of Isaiah were copied with all the grammatical errors in punctuation and spelling from the 1769 King James Bible. Is it coincidence that Joseph Smith has the same version?? Was God such a bad speller that his dictation was identical to 15th century English with all of it’s spelling and punctuation errors? Here’s another shocker for you. Galatians 1:8. I’ll leave it to you to have your secretaries look it up for you after they blow the dust off your Bible.
There is only a need for secrecy as a result of the deceit perpetrated by the leadership of the LDS church over many generations. Consider this…An emotional experience (upon which all LDS testimonies are built on), does NOT give you an increase of knowledge. Nor does it substantiate or bolster fact. Facts stand for themselves, and an awareness of them increases knowledge. Having said that, most if not ALL LDS testimonies are rooted in nothing more than a “feeling” or an “emotional experience” and not in any fact. You DO NOT KNOW that Joseph Smith was a prophet because you felt something. It’s impossible. We do have facts to substantiate that he was a con man and convicted of such according to the laws of the land. And of course…..You believe in upholding and sustaining the laws of the land. (12th Article of Faith)
My son has just completed his second year as a medical student. His study and proficiency in the subject matter is a reflection of his increased knowledge. And that knowledge is rooted in facts that are necessary to become, ultimately a Neurosurgeon. No matter how deep his emotional experience was in wanting to be a doctor….That did not give him ANY knowledge in his chosen field. The same holds true for a testimony of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, the Pearl of Great Price and a multitude of doctrines are all rooted in the cloudy nature of an LDS testimony and a feeling. There are no facts, no plates, no artifacts, no cultural historical evidences, no geography, no monetary systems, no grains, no structures, no swords, chariots, in fact……no nothing to substantiate them. Kinda like Santa Claus…..no facts, no evidence….just a bunch of embellished lies.
The LDS church is NOT the true restored church. There simply are NO facts to substantiate it. NO “feeling” will ever establish the veracity of truth that comes from FACT. The strongest argument for it is relegated to the ramblings of a lust driven, selfish, cunning and convicted con man. Joseph Smith. That is a recorded fact. Yes, the veracity of the entire LDS church rests on the words of a convicted con man. How comforting. How uplifting. How enlightening.
The Chinese have a saying that goes something like this…..”beware of old men who nod wisely, and speak foolishly”. The world in it’s spiritual apathy is given a front row seat to the truth of that statement every 6 months when these self inflated general authorities espouse their personal thoughts, nodding knowingly/wisely on a variety of topics. As a 30 year member/veteran in a variety of leadership roles, I’ve witnessed that consistently within the leadership of the government of the LDS church. I am not alone in this and you know it. My gosh, do you ever step outside of your bubble of delusion to really see who you’ve become and what you follow?? Do you ever consider the turmoil you create in the destruction of marriages, families and even cultures? Have you become so consumed with your vast financial empire and power mongering that you’ve lost sight of the basic principles of decency and honesty and the value of a human soul?
How in the world do you reconcile your doctrine to building a mall in the shadow of the supposed House of the Lord…spending billions of dollars, that is open on Sunday and serves alcohol 7 days a week? Don’t hide behind the fact that you have a non LDS partner that owns those facilities either. Whatever happened to the church’s doctrine that I’ve heard so often of “avoiding the APPEARANCE of Evil”. What separates you from the money changers who were chased off the temple grounds by Christ during his ministry on earth?? Shame on you, you blasphemers who set yourselves apart as having some great spiritual wisdom.
Do any of you who stand as supposed prophets, seers and revelators…have the courage to answer any of this plainly and truthfully and publicly?? THE WORLD IS WAITING…as am I, as have thousands of others over the generations.
I come from a strong Christian Mennonite heritage, I grew up poor by todays standards, and was taught in the ways of being a good citizen, hard worker and loyal servant of Christ. I grew up in central Canada as a famer; I was naïve but sincere in my youth and I completed reading the Bible in both German and English by the age of 13. At my baptism into the LDS church, I essentially lost my relationship with my birth family in Canada. I felt the sting of Matthew 10:34-38. My family warned me repeatedly that I was being deceived, but my feelings for my eventual wife and her 2 children overshadowed the necessity to make an informed decision that should have also been rooted in fact. My fault, and fortunately for the LDS church….the internet didn’t yet exist.
I was labeled as the quintessential golden convert and I took the missionary discussions 3 times when I was 26…. stumbling over and over on several principles that included the existence of a Prophet…Polygamy, the inequality of Blacks holding Priesthood, tobacco, alcohol in any form and many other nonsensical Pharisaical laws.
But I was in love with a woman who already had 2 children from a failed temple marriage to a Returned Missionary (imagine that??). I loved her and her children. They were 5 and 6 and I adopted them, loved them as my own, and raised them within the doctrines of the church. I served as a Ward Mission Leader (without any Priesthood), an inspired oversight I guess, as an Elders Quorum President, Young Men’s President, in three different Bishoprics as a counselor, High Councilor for nearly 10 years, as a YSA Bishop, Gospel Doctrine teacher, seminary teacher and various other callings. I was a voracious reader and student of the gospel, and even more of a student of the truth. I have attended the temple countless times and served as an ordinance worker at the veil. I have worked hard in the church and sacrificed seemingly an incalculable amount of time and energy over the course of 30 years. It wasn’t until I was called as the Bishop and I met with honest, sincere YSA’s who asked real questions, that I began in earnest to find the truth. At first it was to help them, but in the end it really helped me see the lie that I had been perpetuating for so long.
Fast forward to today…May of 2015. I have lost the family that I created here on earth, but regained my relationship with my mother and father and siblings. I have also regained my freedom and life, having finally received my letter of confirmation that I have resigned my membership in the LDS church. I am not some piece of human refuse that can be swept into the ever-growing pile of disaffected and disillusioned members in the church. That number is growing and gaining in momentum. I’ve been in the meetings with Tom Perry and Dallin Oaks and various other GA’s as the demographic of 15-30 year olds that leave the church grows. This age group represents the future of the church. They also live in an age of information. Lots of it and it is easily accessible. With that comes the risk of exposing what the church is really founded on and the indefensible nature of it. You are doomed and ultimately will be found out on an enormous scale. You will become as obsolete as a mortician during the resurrection. Your weak attempts at transparency with the recent Essays on church history will not sustain you. You don’t even have the courage to sign them with authorship. One word comes to mind.
Given my investment of time in penning this letter and the 3 decades of service and sacrifice, I feel that some form of reciprocal communication from the leadership of the church is in order. You have my email. Use it.
You cannot continue to plug all the holes in the dam that is leaking membership, by ignoring events such as this in people’s lives. YOU KNOW that there is NO restoration. There is NO restoration of the Priesthood, NO restoration of Temple ordinances, NO plain and precious truths restored (none, not one single one has been identified that was supposedly lost), NO restoration of baptism (Christ already demonstrated that in the NT)…..You know that the Lamanite program (native American westernization) was a farce and that they would never become “white and delightsome” as the Book of Mormon claimed, Yes…..NO NOTHING. Just vagueness and ever changing doctrine.
Tell me what was lost in the Bible that the BOM supposedly restored. Tell me what the fullness of the gospel represents and restored????? Tell me how polygamy is inspired of God when it is denounced several times in the BOM, starting in Jacob and fully contradicts the 132nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants?? Tell me why the 132nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants still exists today…if Polygamy is no longer a Prophetic utterance that the church no longer subscribes to??? Tell me how God is unchanging and reveals things in his time, never to be retracted. Tell me and the followers of your ever changing BS why your God consistently needs to recall his revelations to his prophets???? Tell me and the world where the “correctness” of this infallible book is???? Tell the world what has been changed since the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon was released. Be specific and honest. All this and so much more from “the most correct book on the face of the earth” and re-enforced by the sham of prophetic leadership. You as a body, represent blasphemy defined. You, each of you has arrived at some point of apathy where you can no longer identify with truth, with God’s will or with the needs of God’s children. One shouldn’t be surprised here, since Satan somehow has relevance in your temple endowment. Who the heck would include the fear mongering of Satan as a voice of reason in the supposed spiritual experience of the temple endowment. Yet he has a place and instills fear with his haunting comments of “if any of you here today fail to live up to the covenants made here today, will be in my power”. …….Wow….where is the spirit of the Holy Ghost there. Do you really think Christ would be okay with you given Satan a chance to have a voice here??? I guess since you’ve already baptized Hitler, Stalin and a host of other genocidal maniacs….its okay.
Here’s a reality check for you……..the youth of today are completely internet savvy. They can find the truth about most anything and the historical data to support their findings. You have little to NO sway over them in this day and age and the statistical data that you gather substantiates that. Your days are numbered and you know it. Your hand wringing, hat in hand appeals to the membership of the church doesn’t resonate anymore. Your own statement (thank you Dallin Oaks) The church doesn't "seek apologies and we don't give them" will only continue to subvert your efforts to capture this youthful and informed element. When you finally arrive at the point of desperation to truly and honestly admit the historicity of the church….it will be too little too late. I would venture a guess that this and many other ridiculous inspired quotes from General Authorities will come back to haunt you at some point as you face ever growing challenges to the future sustainability of the church. You might want to take a peek at Matthew 12:37…..”For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”. There are so many similar quotes of arrogance from the church that even when you do consider an appeal to forget the past and start over…..it will have no effect in stemming the flow of defectors. I’m still trying to figure out how Dallin Oaks’ statement of no apology bears ANY attribute of Christ like behavior.
Here’s a second point for you all of you “uber-intelligent” leaders to consider. If you take Christ out of Christianity, the Church would fall/fail. If you take Christ out of Mormonism, you would continue as you have done for 180 years. You revere your prophets, you annual manuals are a testament of that statement. You have NO manuals on the life of Christ. None. None that annunciate or articulate his miracles, none that dwell on his life…..just more adulation of dead pedophiles/prophets who perpetuated the nazi like high stepping mindset of control. Here’s an update…you have NO control over me. I am free of you and your pathetic laws that have no origin in Christ’s teachings.
I hope I live long enough to see the Church of Jesus Christ come to its public day of reckoning. You know as well as anyone that seeks truth, that the church is deteriorating at an accelerated rate. The day is fast approaching to where you can no longer deny that the church in fact has a negative growth. When you pontificate at General Conference about how well the church is doing, facts will condemn you and expose your deceitful desperation. Given the apathy of the world, the only thing that will save you is your money. You have plenty of it, acquired on the backs of the meek of the earth. And given the currency that appeals to those led by the adversary, you will continue to have followers.
If it weren’t for 3rd and 4th world countries and their illiteracy…you would have nowhere to go. There is no growth in Canada and the US or Western Europe. Child of record baptisms is all you have to substantiate growth, and as the families downsize due to economic pressure and families get smaller, with fewer children….that too will dry up and be outpaced by the departed. There is barely a measurable percentage of retention in South America and many other parts of the world. Reducing the age requirements for missionary service will have the same effect that layoffs have in an economic downturn. You cannot cost cut your way to profitability and remain sustainable. You can’t throw more people at missionary work to proclaim falsehoods to generate growth. False will always be false, and truth will always overrule falsehood, just as light will always overcome darkeness.
Shame on you…..for building a financial empire that is masquerading as Christ’s church, and all at the expense of the faith based gifts of hard working, in many cases, impoverished people. I testify to you, that I will stand as a witness against your deceit perpetrated on the innocent and humble in distant lands, and even throughout the earth.
I myself have four children, two returned-missionary- one served as an AP in Peru……all temple-married, two graduates from BYU, and have 12 grandchildren…..all active in the primary and youth programs. My wife and I have lived our nearly 30 years of marriage completely united in our commitment to a gospel oriented home. My now ex-wife is one of the most valiant, unquestioning, devoted members you will ever meet. She is blindly obedient and would not hesitate for a second if she were asked to be another wife of the so-called prophet or other leaders of the Q15. She reels with guilt in drinking Coke and feels such trivial disobedience requires fasting and confession to a Bishop. That is the mindset of someone incapable of thinking for himself or herself. That is someone who has graduated from the church curriculum of Agency 101, and how to Enforce It. That is the mindset of a brainwashed, programmed Stepford Wife. It IS blind obedience. Our happiness in marriage was centered in the gospel, and not in the synergy of love without the encumbrances of religion. We have faithfully performed all of the home-strengthening practices (FHE, daily prayer and scripture study, etc) throughout our married years, not 100% but in the course of life, we gave our best efforts. Our children are strong in the church because we as parents gave them that foundation. We were your typical Mormon success story.
This changed approximately three years ago. The story about how it changed is long, complicated, and spans years of turmoil, personal study, personal observation, and experience. In my personal study and questioning, I have followed the simplicity of 3 principles as it relates to truth.
1. What do the scriptures, history and archeology say.
2. What does my God given intellect tell me as I study and discover and test all things. (James 1:5)
3. What does my experiential knowledge add to support a doctrine, fact or principle.
Rather than rehearse the entire journey, I will only summarize the end results. If additional details are needed regarding the details of what led to this discovery, beyond what is written here…..I can be contacted at ********@gmail.com. But…you already know what I know. There will be no new surprises for you. I’m not the first, nor am I the last.
If you’ve made it this far by actually reading this, here’s something else to consider. The recent “essays” provided by the church admitted with some vagueness, the truth of the polygamy and polyandry of Joseph Smith. Strangely in spite of this lame attempt at clarifying his behavior, it has always been verifiable on any Genealogical website…including the one sponsored by the LDS church.
Given the facts presented in the “essays”, and given that Fawn Brodie was excommunicated for publishing Josephs sexual behavior in her book “No Man Knows My History”…..will she have her membership re-instated now, posthumously? And if so, what does that say about the inspiration that caused her to be excommunicated. Did God make a mistake, was his inspiration to the Stake President flawed…or is it representative of the “feelings” of the Stake President and his HC. Somehow it would seem that “feelings and inspiration/revelation” have become synonymous in the culture of the LDS church. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are as opposite as “knowing good and evil” vs “knowing good from evil”. In case you missed what I just said, one is the invitation of Satan and one is the invitation of the Savior. Feelings are generated by man (imperfect). Inspiration/Revelation are generated by God (perfect and unchanging).
Suffice it to say that I have discovered reliable many unchallenged facts (as have many others) about church history, church operations, church doctrine, church secrecy and church culture that have brought me to the undeniable conclusion that the church is NOT TRUE. There is NO prophet and the NEVER was one, starting with Joseph Smith. Not only is the church not true (meaning that it is not what it claims to be), but the church purposefully withholds (even denies) vital information that would lead ANY thinking person to the same conclusion. I am astonished at the LDS Church’s portrayal of Joseph Smith translating the golden plates by candlelight in some pensive, demur setting while his scribe gazes in awe at his inspiration. This is the imagery that is fostered by the church to the world at large. The reality from numerous eye witness accounts including that of Joseph Smith’s scribes and even Joseph Smith himself…..is that HE PLACED HIS HEAD IN A HAT TO OBSCURE THE LIGHT AND WAITED FOR MAGICAL WRITING TO APPEAR ON A ROCK HE FOUND, WHILE DIGGING A WELL FOR HIS NEIGHBOR. Seriously?? Why is this truth not taught???? Too embarrassing?? To “crazy”. It sounds like a script for a cartoon.
Church leaders even boast about the moral and ethical justification for acting this way in obscuring the truth.
Thank you again Dallin Oaks ….and I quote him…..“It’s wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true”. Boyd K Packer and others have spoken similarly of this. Again….are you serious, and you expect people to believe this????
….This is the behavioral pattern of a cult; it is inconsistent with the church’s own articles of faith; and it is the central reason for the growing groundswell of revolt from within. It is inconsistent with the mind and will of God and I don’t need a self-proclaimed prophet to tell me that. To ignore this fact is the height of arrogance. You are either stupid, apathetic, led by Satan or you are completely devious…or all of the above; whichever you choose, you lose.
As I’ve already stated, you already know that the church is not what it claims to be; you already know that Native Americans are not the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon; DNA evidence of the natives of America prove you wrong: you already know that the whole story of the BOM is not accurate, geographically or historically….and that there never was a translation of gold plates; You already know that a View of the Hebrews is the template for the Book of Mormon; you already know that the Book of Abraham is not a translation of the papyri that it claims to be (since the facsimile has been deciphered and Egyptian CAN now be read); you already know that the first vision account is not reliable or accurate (since there are 8 versions that differ from one another); you already know that church history is a warped version of real history and real history paints a pretty bleak picture of church origins and behavior; you already know that spiritual “special witness” experiences are not what the average member believes them to be; and you already know that as prophets, seers, and revelators, you DO NOT possess any such gifts as they are understood by the average member. You also know that the testimony of the signed 11 witnesses signed a document drafted by Joseph Smith…..and that they NEVER saw the plates with their natural eyes. You know….and yet you LIE. You receive and even encourage unqualified trust in your special abilities, and you know very well that those abilities are not special at all. You may be talented administrators and/or orators, but you are not prophets, seers, and revelators, and you know it. Yet you allow members to revere and honor you as such to placate your disgusting egos. You are either self-deceived or you are willing deceivers, and are capitalizing on the monetary advantage you have with your publications. Knowing they will be lapped up by the moronic obedience of a deceived membership. You know that members believe and teach that you have had personal physical visitations from Jesus Christ, and you know that you have not had this experience. Yet, you are willing to allow members to perpetuate this myth for unknown but unavoidably dishonest reasons. This is a pattern, not an anomaly. You know you are not what you claim to be (or what church culture teaches about you); and you allow this false perception to continue. What does that say about you and your integrity? From my vantage point…you are the hallmark of sociopathic behavior. Pretend as you might in the course of your lives…you know…as do I that a day of reckoning is coming. I’m not sure whether my innate sense of compassion will overrule the need for Justice and offer you Mercy….as I stand as a witness against you. Regardless…. you know…. it is coming.
So, after coming to this awful realization that things are not what they claim to be within the church, what are my options? This journey was so disruptive and internally tumultuous that I chose to travel it alone. I was absolutely certain that there were solid faith sustaining answers to each disturbing fact. Finally, after I had absorbed the magnitude of the truth, I tried to share it with my wife. To her horror, she saw that her husband had gone into the unthinkable realm of “apostasy”. She refused to even pray with me, as I had a “different” faith. At first, she resented me for even looking; then she denied the possibility that any of it could be true; then she tried to stand on the shaky ground that even if it was true it did not lead to the conclusions I had made; finally, she clings to the defensive posture that I cannot be smarter than you (how can so many good men be wrong and her imperfect husband be right?). As any good investigator knows…you follow the money.
And…this is where you as the 15 leaders come into the picture. This is where the church comes between myself and my ex-wife in our now defunct marriage relationship. This is where the damage is done in countless other relationships. Do you think that you can escape responsibility for this damage? Do you doubt your complicity in creating this wedge? Can you understand how people like me come to a point of seemingly powerless resentment against the church? I suspect that you cannot understand such things, because if you did you would use your influence to make necessary changes. You are too busy being blinded by the money that continues to flow unabated into the church treasury and it’s trickle down effect in your personal lives.
I once taught my children, how much $1 billion dollars was. The short explanation is as follows: If you spend a $1000.00 a day how long would it take you to spend $1 Billion dollars with no interest accruing?? It would take 2,739.72 years….YEARS to spend. Yet you consistently take in billions of dollars in tithing to do what???? Build a multibillion-dollar mall that violates your own doctrine by being open on Sundays and serve alcohol 7 days a week. You cannot hide behind partners or anything else you can conjure up…you can’t avoid your own doctrine of avoiding the appearance of EVIL.
I am no longer trapped in the church; of that there can be no doubt. I have finally after 1 1/2 years received my letter of confirmation of resignation. And I find enormous comfort in the words of Christ in Matthew 19:29…and I quote from LDS scripture….”And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life”. In the end, that will redeem me. Not you.
You glorify those who leave their families to join your church and at the same time you demonize those who would leave the LDs church for whatever reason. In doing so you violate on every level, the 11th, 12th and 13th Articles of Faith in your own doctrine. You stereotype those who obtain damaging “truth” as intellectuals and apostates. You encourage an atmosphere of exclusion against those who have information that would damage faith, even when that faith (as is LDS faith) is founded upon false data and the information that challenges the LDS doctrine is rooted in truth.
Your efforts of withholding and denying truth have had the result of destroying my personal integrity (for a time).
I know things that I once could not openly speak about ( now I can and will). I can say this……I lied in temple recommend interviews so I can go to the temple to see my own children get married, and because my wife is comforted by the image of a temple worthy husband. I missed and wasn’t even invited my youngest daughters wedding since I didn’t and wouldn’t pay the admission fee required to attend the temple (of being a full tithe payer). I denounced the false prophet of Joseph Smith…..and in your disillusion marketing/trolling…..families are not forever (unless you do it your way). This isn’t Burger King. I don’t do it your way. You as a delusional leadership body limited my one time opportunity to rejoice in the union of my daughter to her chosen companion. That is an event that cannot be repeated. I will never attend her “first” and hopefully last time at marriage. You stole that from me. God didn’t. You did with your ridiculous Pharisaical laws. Laws that have literally no rooting in Christ’s revealed doctrines. You are nothing more than a cheap imitation of the Masonic order, having stolen their ordinance and calling it your own. And the truth is, that Joseph Smith was killed for having revealed/stolen that information from the Masons. Thank God, the Masons have a spine, if for no other reason that to stand on principle.
I also lied to my children when they questioned an aspect of church history or doctrine, because the truth would place them in the same pressure cooker I am in. I lied to my wife because she finds the truth so disturbing. I lied because telling the truth is more painful than a comforting lie. And I learned to lie from you. You are lying to the membership by your silence (and denial) regarding information that is vital to faith. People have based their faith on incorrect information; you know this; and you remain silent. You lie for the same reason that I lied; because people prefer a comforting lie over a disturbing truth.
Your understanding of the culture you created and perpetuate through established programs is dismal. You preach adherence to the guidance of the brethren; you promise blessings for obedience to programs and leaders; you build a structure of dependence and hierarchical authoritarianism; you inculcate an environment of conformance without regard to individuality; and you do all of this with the stated intent of blessing and improving lives, relationships and family bonds. You are the new improved; less filling, lemon fresh scented Hitler of the 21st century.
Your programs have evolved into a culture with the opposite effect than the one you intended; members feel constantly inadequate regardless of their effort; they wake up exhausted, mentally and physically as a result of almost inhuman efforts in service and the ongoing war in their heads of imperfection and the subsequent beating with the clubs of shame and guilt; families pressure struggling children with bad advice that comes from your talks and books; you raise the bar, a blatant slap in the face to those who do not fit within your misguided program. Programs flounder not because of poor execution but because they are poor programs. When such negative results reach your ears, you are saddened that the poor members just do not see the vision; you nod wisely and speak foolishly with no solution because the lay members of the church that cannot learn the vital lessons. It never occurs to you that your inspiration and leadership is the flawed element. Either you are uninspired or uninformed, but your leadership is causing more suffering than blessings. But this is not really about bad programs. Rather, it is about faulty foundations. I do not expect you to acknowledge that the church is not what it claims to be, but I demand that you acknowledge your part in the failures. Stop blaming failure on the members. They give all and when they finally realize the truth, they too will stand as a witness to what you have done to them. In the end as it relates to the aforementioned…. it is cheap and dishonest.
My anger and disillusionment led me to the point of attempted suicide on my birthday in March of 2014. I tried to drown myself in the ocean, but the waves kept tossing me to shore. I am embarrassed that I descended to such a point of sorrow. The despair as a result of my loss was unbearable. Perhaps the waves sent me back to shore as a blessing from God, in that I was willing to give up my life and place it on the alter so to speak….that I might find it again (Matthew 16:25). If for NO other reason than to witness against your unrighteous dominion. I do not expect you to understand this as your apathy has been hardened with the passage of time. I do not expect you to do anything with this information, except to try to track me down and deal with me through your “strengthening the members committee” as Jeffrey Holland so cunningly sidestepped in his interview with the BBC.
I am not alone. I am part of a growing community of knowledgeable members and ex members who will not be silenced. You have no idea how to deal with us because you fear our power, the truth and an ever-increasing momentum….and a disconnect from the youth of today. You have nothing to offer them. You fear it because you know that truth is on our side. I would feel pity for you except for the inexplicable arrogance that you currently display without remorse.
The law of the harvest will be your undoing. You have sown seeds of benevolent deception; you shall reap a harvest of faithful rebellion, and Justice will have it’s day with you. Do not expect mercy from those who stand as witnesses against you. They have already paid the price in mortality. You, on the other hand…will pay eternally.
With confidence in the forgiveness and grace of Christ Jesus,
I stand redeemed and forgiven….
The weight on my shelf had been growing for years. Until around 2012 I had been fairly good at leaving the issues there, having faith, reading apologetics, and trying to feel the spirit more. But the more I read, the more I struggled.
I finally got to a point where I stopped brushing aside all of the things that didn't make sense to me, and I stopped caring whether or not an information source was "approved of". The biggest problems for me were (1) race and the priesthood and (2) the church's ongoing fight against LGBTQ individuals. Even though my beliefs went from literal, to nuanced, to completely non-literal, I still very much wanted to stay in the community and I remained active with a temple recommend.
When the November 2015 policy was leaked, everything changed. I had often times asked myself what I would have done if I had been living in the days prior to 1978. I would like to think that I would have spoken out about racial injustice in the church, but I can never be sure. When the 2015 policy came out I thought, "what would I do right now if I had a gay child?" The answer was obvious to me, I would immediately leave the church without hesitation. Well, we are taught in the church to mourn with those that mourn, and just because I wasn't personally suffering the direct consequences of the policy was irrelevant to the suffering of others. It became clear to me that I could no longer participate in an organization that persistently attacks those I care about. I knew that the fallout for leaving from friends and family members would be brutal and agonizing, but I simply could no longer stomach the revulsion I felt from the actions of the institution. So my wife and I left, and we have never once regretted it.
In 2013 I was the First Assistant to the High Priest Group Leader and I oversaw "group education". The course of study for the year was "The D&C and Church History". I decided to enhance my knowledge of Church history by embarking on an ambitious reading project. I read, in 14 months, beginning in January:
The Standard Works (twice)
The History of the Church (7 volumes)
A Comprehensive History of the Church (6 volumes)
The History of Joseph Smith By His Mother
The Journal of Discourses (26 volumes)
Mind blown. Testimony shattered.
Spoke with wife. Then Bishop. Then received a visit from my Stake President accompanied by the local Area 70 in my home. The Church Authorities had no answers.
2016 rolls around and I make a Facebook post. Somehow word made it to the Stake President and he has my Bishop call me in and ask that I take down my post. I declined. I am called into the Stake President for a visit and he asked me directly to take down the post. I declined. A week later my Disciplinary Council is held and I was excommunicated.
Over a Facebook post. Rather petty, wasn't it? But the Church needs to protect its good name, right?
I always found myself at odds with the Church socially. Even when I was on my best behavior there was always this higher unattainable standard. I worked hard through school and my mission to be a part of a Church I thought would help me live a happy life. After a broken off engagement and a lot of questions piling on my shelf I came to understand the Church had no real answers.
In January of 2018 I was reading a church manual for general edification (haha). I read a passage about Lorenzo Snow that had an ellipsis ( ... ) that I thought might be worth looking into. I was stunned to see that the excluded text was small but very significant. Leaving it out changed the context of the whole section I was reading from. I was confused why the church would do that or feel a need to be deceptive or unethical. I tried to justify it and figured it would be an anomaly. I proceeded to look up other ellipsis in the manuals and look up the full quotes. I found a pattern of twisting words and being deceptive that is blatant dishonesty in my eyes. I wasn't taught to behave that way in my home or in the church so it was very discomforting.
I started reading everything from the church with a more critical eye and found so much shady writing or hiding of the truth that lay just underneath. Context matters and they definitely don't teach that enough in the church. In four months I read and read and read church approved materials and their associated source documents. I realized that I was wrong in using certain rhetoric with my wife when she expressed doubts or issues with past leaders. Although I had kept this reading addiction from her so far, I started apologizing to her for being so naive and under-read.
Over the next two months I was really searching for the silver lining that would save my testimony. I couldn't find it, it only got worse. The church's gospel topics essays sealed the deal. If the priesthood ban was based on the theories of men as they wrote, what else is?
At this point I felt safe to look at "anti-Mormon" material (historical documents and other writings). I knew my stuff now so sniffing out the BS would be straightforward (or at least possible). I found most "anti" stuff to be quite factual. Sure there were exaggerations and some vitriol mixed in but that was discernible.
My conscience burned knowing that I was part of supporting such dishonesty and I couldn't stay. It became really tiresome hearing "it's true" and "I know" statements at church over and over. If the church was "true" then nothing else would matter (thanks, Hinkley). But that isn't the case so there is no sense for me to be supporting a church that oppresses women, minorities, ethnicities/cultures, the lgbtq+ and others based on the theories of past and present leaders.
After my third failed attempt at an “eternal marriage”, each one ending in abuse, and an unexpected anxiety attack in the temple, I started therapy and did some deep soul searching. I found the root of my problem was the sexism that existed in the Mormon church, both cultural and doctrinal. One of my feminists friends introduced me to the gospel topic essays, and my testimony hit an iceberg, and sunk like the titanic!
I began to study the life of Christ to learn how to be better. As I did that, I began to see inconsistencies with how the LDS church was behaving. The response to the McKenna Denson allegations that acknowledged there was an unnamed 2nd woman gave me permission to ask questions about why the response was so un-Christ like.
After months of cognitive dissonance between the correlated curriculum and the recorded history of Mormonism as recorded in its own archives, I was done. I waited for our son to get home from his mission before resigning.
I resigned in December 2019 along with my wife, oldest son, and youngest son. Of the 6 people in our family, 4 have resigned, 1 is completely inactive, with only 1 active.
I became heavily involved in the Ordain Women movement because it invigorated my spouse's faith in Mormonism. We thought it could be a way for Mormonism to help rediscover its progressive, egalitarian roots with the historical practice of Women's Blessings and a doctrine of Heavenly Mother, and then we had our first daughter, and I wanted to create a better faith home for her to grow up in.
When Kate Kelly was excommunicated, our optimism was crushed, but I kept searching Church History to understand Heavenly Mother and the nature of God, which led me to contemplate who the Holy Spirit could be. The best answer I found was from Janice Allred (Allred, "Toward a Mormon Theology of God the Mother", Dialogue Journal, 1994, Vol. 27, No. 2, Pgs. 15-39) who argued that "God" could be the Heavenly Couple together, Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and that each of them gave up their immortal bodies to serve us on earth. Heavenly Father gave up His body to become Jesus Christ - The Son and Heavenly Mother gave up Her body to become the Holy Spirit. I was ecstatic to discover that there could be room for Heavenly Mother in the Godhead, and there would be a space for my daughter to emulate a Feminine Divine, but then I learned that Janice Allred was excommunicated for her paper and presentation that had brought me so much faith and inspiration.
I began to look further into Church History to understand the First Vision and changes regarding marriage (e.g. monogamy as doctrine, polygamy as doctrine, Family Proclamation, and views on LGBTQIA issues), and I kept finding changes in doctrine. The Nature of God seemed to change through Church History, the Doctrine and Covenants seemed to be changed in response to political and legal pressure instead of being revealed ahead of time, and when I realized that the most problematic "revelation" for me personally, D&C 132 regarding polygamy, was only added two years after a new law - the Poland Act of 1874 - was introduced to aid in the prosecution of polygamy, I finally allowed myself to consider that Mormon Prophets weren't receiving revelation, but were reacting to legal pressure.
I kept searching, hoping I might be wrong, but the further I dug, the more I found out about the evolving nature of the First Vision, since the "first vision or first visitation" appeared to evolve from being a "treasure guardian" who visited Joseph when he was between 18-19 years old, to an "angel" who told him his "sins were forgiven" when he was 17 years old, to "many angels" telling him his "sins were forgiven" when he was 14 years old, until the First Vision account I was familiar with from 1838 declared that "God the Father & Jesus Christ" appeared to Joseph when he was 14 years old. It was unsettling because none of the early church leaders, like the three witnesses, or later leaders like Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff seemed to know about the "First Vision" from their teachings, see here regarding the "doctrinal evolution of the mormon god": http://www.jvalentiner.com/2017/09/doctrinal-evolution-of-mormon-god.html
Through my research, I kept seeing instances where doctrine seemed to be changing and leaders kept failing to predict the future. One of the most startling examples for me was when I realized that the Mormon Church Presidents had changed positions on marriage multiple times: for instance, the original D&C 101 (1835) states: "we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband", but that was later replaced with D&C 132 (1876) "new and everlasting covenant - polygamy". That change appears to have happened two years after a new anti-polygamy law, Poland Act of 1874, was passed by the U.S. government. It appears that it was expressly canonized in preparation for a first amendment challenge to that Act, which ended up going all the way to the Supreme Court in Reynolds v. United States (1878). The Supreme Court ends up upholding the Constitutionality of the Poland Act and the Church ends up losing. Further legal and political pressure is added to dissuade the practice of polygamy, and eventually the First and Second Manifestos are given to publicly declare the practice of polygamy "over", while it was still practiced in secret for several more years.
Later in 1991, the marriage equality fight begins in Hawaii, the Mormon Church files an amicus brief to petition to intervene in the marriage equality case but is unable to point to any "scripture or doctrine" for monogamy, since they had previously argued for a first amendment right to practice "polygamy" in Reynolds v. U.S. - an irony that was predicted by Dallin Oaks in a legal memo that he prepared and was dated the same day he was sustained an apostle on August 7th 1984:
>"The leading United States Supreme Court authority for the proposition that marriage means a relationship between a man and a woman is Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878). In that case, in which the United States Supreme Court sustained the validity of the anti-polygamy laws, the Court defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. The court's stress in that case was on one. The modern relevance of the Reynolds opinion is in its reference to marriage as being between a man and a woman. The irony would arise if the Church used as an argument for the illegality of homosexual marriages the precedent formerly used against the Church to establish the illegality of polygamous marriages."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Principles to Govern Possible Public Statement on Legislation Affecting Rights of Homosexuals", 7 August 1984, Pgs. 19-20
In 1995, Gordon Hinckley introduces the "Proclamation on the Family" and the Mormon Church uses this document as basis for their doctrine supporting monogamy in their petition to the Hawaii court in the ongoing marriage equality litigation in 1997.
It appears that an original monogamy doctrine was replaced with a polygamy doctrine to fight a law on constitutional grounds, later the Church tries to intervene in marriage equality fight, but needs to supplant their polygamy doctrine with a document establishing monogamy as doctrine.
If they were "prophets", why didn't they see into the future? Why didn't the leaders of the Church fix these problems before laws and court decisions forced a change? If leaders are actually inspired by revelation, why has "scripture" been amended several times to flip flop from monogamy to polygamy to monogamy?
I didn't have an intellectually honest answer to that, and my integrity required that I regain my agency and authority. It took control of my life by taking a different path.
See here for citations and more detail regarding the "doctrinal evolution of mormon marriage": http://www.jvalentiner.com/2017/02/doctrinal-evolution-of-mormon-marriage.html?q=mormon+marriage
I always had a couple areas that were troubling and problematic for me from the time I was young, but I always found ways to push those things aside and blamed it on my own "weak faith" or inability to understand. As the years progressed, I continued to have more and more concerns that became harder and harder to push away or justify as only being my own lack of understanding. It was a very hard and emotional journey, full of years of exhaustive research. I have resigned after several years of having no more ability to believe that this church was divinely inspired.
I heard about the Fanny Algers story and was completely shocked. I looked for answers but there were none to give. Struggled with cognitive dissonance for 8 years. My brother left the church 2 years ago and he posted a Mormon Stories podcast about a family’s faith transition story. I decided to face my fear and study church history and issues objectively- without confirmation bias. My brother introduced me to fb support groups and I told my family I was leaving the church. I was brave and I’m so happy.
There have been things that have bothered me about the church for a long time. I had a shelf before I realized what that meant. Sometimes the story with Joseph Smith seemed so implausible, and I knew I would never have joined if I hadn't been born into it. After being taught how to research in high school, and to look at both sides, it seemed wrong sitting in seminary and learning that we should never look at outside sources. That put up a red flag for me, but my family and several of my friends were Mormons, so I was always too afraid to look into it. I figured that it wasn't really hurting anything, and it was easier to just not question. I had a hard time with things like the November policy. I put a lot of that kind of stuff on my shelf. It wasn't really until Sam Young that I realized how dangerous and toxic this environment can be. My children are approaching the ages of bishop interviews, and so it was time for me to really evaluate the truth claims of the church. And it all fell apart. I could forgive a lot of the history, but the fact is, it's not the narrative I was given. They lied. If you look at the gospel topics essays and look at the sources in the footnotes, they're still lying. Someone claiming to have the truth shouldn't lie.
During high school I depended a lot on the church for social support, even though I had serious doubts as to its validity.
I got more involved with it after I graduated high school and I moved in with my older brother. I still had doubts, but I got to a point where I felt like a mission was something that I needed to do. I still wasn't sure if Mormonism was true, but I thought my life would be easier if I thought it was. I got called to the Las Vegas Spanish speaking mission. When I was in the MTC I really took religion a lot more seriously which made me feel like I had to get to the bottom of somethings. I remember watching a video where someone who was raised talked about how if she became a Mormon she wouldn't be the good catholic girl that her family always wanted her to be but that she had to do what she felt was right. That hit me way harder that any experience with the church ever had. I talked to several different people and most of them just tried to reinforce that I had to gain a testimony and told me to read the scriptures and pray until I learn it's true.
I prayed and fasted all the time but the main times when I felt the spirit were when the message was a basic humanism message rather than when it was about Jesus or Mormonism.
I left the mission after 3 months and decided to get to the bottom of what was going on. I realized that I was only aware of the tip of the iceberg about Mormonism. When I accepted that I didn't believe it, all of the puzzle pieces fit together for me.
Being out of Mormonism helped me to reevaluate beliefs that I had. I became much more liberal in my politics and less judgmental of others. I don't believe in God. I now attend the Unitarian Universalist Church because it is a church that isn’t dogmatic and accepts people for not believing in God.
I touched on this in the About Me section. I don't have a testimony of the Church or Joseph Smith. I have not left the church entirely, and will support my TBM wife for as long as she needs, even if that's forever. I love that this faith experience has allowed me to finally be myself and feel real peace.
When is the next scheduled meet up? We are looking forward to it since we are currently viewed as outcasts inside and outside of the church. People haven’t wanted to hang out since we were considered Mormons, and members haven’t wanted to because we were viewed as outside the box thinkers, haha. We just want other families to relate to and to have a safe space with people going through similar religious challenges.
A very condensed recap of our affiliation with the LDS church is that I had “faith challenges” my whole life but was always taught that if I doubt it is of satan. So I went on to submit my papers to go on a mission, but because I came from a broken home with absent parents I was denied. I did not agree with this at all but once again was afraid to challenge the decision because that would be me challenging God (or so I thought at the time).
Later I went through the temple and was completely uncomfortable, not because I didn’t feel like I was “worthy” enough to be there but because everything seemed so cult like and strange. Once again I’m sure you all can guess how I handled my feelings.. bottled them up, did not question, and forged onward.
I was lucky enough to meet the love of my life years later and we went through the typical temple marriage, she being born and raised in Idaho made it easier for her to follow the churches very specific and unrelenting guidelines on how a person should function throughout their life.
Fast forward to today.
I no longer believe in the church or its leaders, but I do value and appreciate some of the things I’ve learned along the way, for example how important it is to love one another, how to properly raise our children, and how life can be driven with the lord without the institution of a religion.
My wife is still in the faith crisis stage but understands and supports my views. We have two beautiful strong daughters and a son on the way.
We are in search of similar or like minded friends and families to meet, keep in touch with, and most importantly relate with as we continue on this journey.
Both of us are extremely grateful that these groups exist and look forward to more interactions, wishing you all the best day and hope that this message is not too much.
Thank you for allowing me to share.
As a teenager (1980's), my great uncle, who was a devout baptist Christian, sent me mailings from an anti-Mormon group in Utah, led by John L. Smith (no relation to THAT Smith). The things they would write about as "evidences" against the church were pathetic; worse than the "GodMakers" film of that time.
I went to BYU for a year, and went as a missionary to the Belgium Brussels Mission (defunct), from 1988-1990. The mission was thankfully, almost entirely a great experience. The mission president wasn't a jackass, I had great companions (except for one), and I really loved the people. In fact, just before writing this I was speaking to one of them. I was a successful missionary for that area of the world, baptizing about 35 people. I returned home an even more devout Mormon.
I returned to BYU in the winter semester of 1993. During this semester, I was called to do research for the Stake, to be use as a supplement in Sunday School lessons. Because of the nature of the calling, I was brought into contact with the controversial issues of church history. It was at this time that I encountered the issues regarding The Book of Abraham, Joseph's polygamy, the seer stone, The Book of Mormon anachronisms, etc. This is when I started building my shelf...
It became a rather large shelf, and it wasn't sagging, for one reason alone. I couldn't figure out how Joseph Smith came up with The Book of Mormon. The explanations I'd seen from "anti" sources, just didn't cut it.
Then in May of 2014, I happened upon a video presentation by Chris Johnson, "How The Book of Mormon destroyed Mormonism", where, in short, he demonstrates that Joseph Smith, Jr., certainly borrowed from a book of his time "The Late War", in the creation of The Book of Mormon.
Bam!! No more shelf. What had been building for over 20 years, collapsed in 2 hours. I then knew precisely how Joseph Smith, Jr., fabricated The Book of Mormon.
Shortly thereafter I encountered the CESLETTER, which condensed what I already knew, into an easy to read format.
I resigned from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in December of 2014. It was a difficult thing to do. I've been called absolutely horrible things by people who I thought were inalienable friends. I was wrong. And that shows how profound the Cult of Mormonism actually is.
I am now philosophically Atheist, while finding a niche concept in the addition of "Possiblian" by Dr. David Eaglemen (Google it).
I lost my youngest daughter, Coralee (18), in January, and am currently struggling to find a semblance of peace in life since then.
I have 5 children, and two grand-daughters.
Please contact me if you have any questions, or I can help with your escape from Mormonism. ([email protected])
I had a good relationship with the church, despite my doubts, until I met my teacher's quorum leader. He was extremely overbearing and had the quorum visit inactive members for mutual activities multiple times. It was too much, so I took a break. My leader's reaction was to bring the quorum to my family's home unannounced. He was unaware of my sensory issues and found that his visit was not well received. It was one bad experience, I know, but it was a turning point for me. I started to research and question everything. The more I learned, the more I resented the church for how they deceived me and tried to shepard me into a cookie-cutter life with nothing to look forward to but praying, paying, and hoping. I realized that, if there is a god, his church would not be run this way, and I need to get out. I was too scared of being non-religious out of fear of how the people around me might react. This was a fear totally manufactured by the church, but it was very real to me. I tried Buddhism, but ran into the same roadblock of unrealistic promises, particularly involving the afterlife. I wrote my resignation letter at this time, but it took me three years to work up the courage to send it. There were a lot of theology arguments between my TBM brother and I during that time. He embodies what the church could be if it wasn't corrupt, and I respect that. He helped me leave, because he could see the pain the church was causing me. I couldn't lie about who I was anymore, so I left.
I left after having a discussion about Joseph Smith's polygamy with a friend. When the LDS church published a series of 13 Gospel Topics Essays on their website, he pointed out to me that the church finally admitted that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. I fought back, because I was raised and taught that he was monogamous, and even went so far as to tell my friend he must be mistaken, or the church had it wrong. However, I admitted that I didn't know a lot about the issue, and promised him I would look into it. As an avid reader, and an amateur researcher, I held to my promise. But the deeper I dug into Joseph Smith's history, the deeper I went down the rabbit hole of LDS church history. I was soon learning not only about Joseph Smith's polygamy, but also his folk magic, and the problems with the Book of Abraham, and the Kinderhook Plates, and so much more, to the point that it became very clear to me that the narrative I was learning was not matching the dominant narrative I learned growing up, nor the dominant narrative that is currently being taught. I tried hard to give space for the historicity of the church claims, but every essay, paper, blog post, podcast episode, and so much more, was lined with mountains and mountains of references and citations, all of which could be verified. The "antimormon" literature I was reading was really the true church history, and it rocked my world. From April 2015 to January 2016, I was deeply consumed with everything I could get my hands on to try so hard to prove that these "antimormon lies" were just that- lies. But it the exact opposite. After 9 months of intense and exhausting research, I realized that the evidence for the truth claims lied overwhelmingly with the critics of Mormonism, and not the apologetics. For months, I dealt with anger and depression, as I tried to wrestle with 40 years of my life essentially being a lie. But, the storm settled, the relationship with my wife grew stronger, and now I have honest conversations with my wife and daughter about real issues, doctrine and policy, that shape our lives and the lives around us. These discussions are healthy, they provide deep reflection and introspection into difficult topics, and we have a space where we are happy, vibrant, and authentic.
I left because of its history, treatment of LGBT+ community, treatment of women, and immoral doctrines. The most difficult part has been how my highly mormon family has reacted to it. They haven't been the most open minded and it's been hurtful, on top of what the leaders lie to them about why I left. I hope they find a more positive way to treat ex members.
Below is my resignation letter to my bishop:
I’d like to formally resign from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and have my name removed from the membership records.
I have had the chance to take a break from the church over the last 15 months and the result has been life-changingly positive.
Where I used to suffer from self-hatred and debilitatingly low self-esteem, I have found love for myself and have started to heal, becoming proud of who I am and what I can accomplish.
Where I used to be medicated for desperation and sought the services of therapists and psychiatrists, I now enjoy peace and happiness beyond anything I’ve felt in the past.
Where I used to be in constant distress about who I was and how I couldn’t change my nature - despite the years of efforts and help from clergy and professionals, now I’ve come to truly love myself - giving me a calm peace and confidence that I never knew was possible.
Where I used to feel like I was living a double life, hiding who I was from everyone I loved in fear and shame, I now have removed the fake facade. I now know that those around me truly love me for who I am, not the role that I felt forced to play.
Where I felt judged and inferior due to being “old” and “single,” judged that from my birth I was damned to never reach the highest degree of glory like my peers and family, judged for being different and for having an incurable, taboo “trial,” I now feel free. Free from judgement and from false expectations pushed on to me from people who will never understand my life.
Where I lived in fear and in a constant state of anxiety, those feelings are now replaced with safety and tranquility and peace.
Where I felt an inability to move forward with me life, I now feel excited and hopeful about the future. An institute teacher pointed out to me that the next step for me, according to lds doctrine, is to get sealed in the temple. That is the next ordinance in my progression and the next step for my soul to take on its journey. However, since I am unable to get sealed in this life, I will have to wait until the next life to progress. In other words, I am to just wait until I die...Then I can finally move forward with my eternal progression. As a 25 year old - my progression in this life was over. Please consider the negative weight of this doctrine and how a youthful college student must feel upon realization that he is not allowed to move forward with his life. Taking a break from the church and shedding this horrifyingly depressing and incomprehensibly offensive doctrine, I was finally able to imagine a future for myself where I could be happy and I could progress with a family, with kids, with love and happiness and companionship and a future. I can now start to set goals and make plans and be motivated to work for a better life. But I can’t have these things if I remain a member of the church.
In October of 2017 these terrible thoughts and views poisoned my mind to the point that I attempted to end my life. Looking back I am terrified to think how that night could have come to a horrific end. Coming out of that experience, I realized that something needed to change if I wanted to survive. I took the scary and lonely path of distancing myself from the church - my culture, my family, my friends - and also distanced myself from the unacceptably degrading reality of being a gay man in the church. The resulting 15 months have proven to be literally life saving. I’ve found peace, happiness, and love that I never thought was possible for me. I now can see a future for myself.
The church has no answers. No help for someone that is pleading for guidance and direction. No place for a gay man in the kingdom. The church’s official website on Mormons and gays is misleading at best - I personally know several of the people on the website and I know that the image that the church pushes is falsified and full of deception. In each case there is a dark side that is never acknowledged by the church - depression, secret love affairs to fill unmet needs, double lives, marrying a woman but still having emotionally intimate relationships with men, divorces, and overall men who are unhealthy both emotionally and mentally.
During the journey of my life, I have literally tried every option to find peace, love, acceptance, and a place in the church - mission, active church service, attentive general conference study, institute classes and one on one conversations with every institute teacher I had, meetings with bishops, years of church-approved therapy with 4 different therapists and a psychiatrist, gay Mormon conferences and support groups, 12 step groups, medication, fasting, praying, scripture study, weekly temple attendance - it has been literally an entire life given to the church. But I have found that there is no place for me in God’s great “Plan of Happiness.”
I deserve to be happy. I deserve to have love in my life. I deserve to have peace and hope for a future. My life in the church prevented me from accomplishing this and made me feel like I wasn’t worthy or capable of attaining happiness or love or peace or hope.
This is why I must resign. I’m resigning because I deserve a future.
Like most, I took a deep dive into the truth claims of TSCC. What hurt me most was that I was never given the chance to decide with all the information available to me. I felt betrayed and lied to.
Gay son and disturbing church history as well as not being allowed to question like you used to.
In the end, there were many, many reasons I finally chose to leave, but my loss of trust (and ultimately belief) in the faith began six years after my baptism, when I learned that the Mormon church officially practiced what they believed to be "God-mandated" systematic racism until 1978. From 1852-1978, faithful black men weren't allowed to be ordained to the priesthood, and black men, women, and children weren't allowed to enter the temple or be sealed to their families, because Mormon prophets and apostles believed they were a cursed race.
Yes...1978...14 years after the US Civil Rights Act was passed, and after the rest of America was starting to get it right.
Being half-black, learning about the church's doctrines, revelations, and policies of racism hurt me deeply; they were incredibly personal.
Had my dad been Mormon, he would have lived with this policy for 20 years of his life. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, he already experienced racism everywhere else; he would have also felt it at church, while still calling his fellow white church-members "brother" and "sister."
Had I been born just one generation earlier, I most likely wouldn't have married my husband, who is white, because the church condemned interracial marriage, and asserted it had a gospel-centered basis. I wouldn't (nor would my daughter) have been able to enter the temple, to be sealed to our children, wear the temple garments, or serve a mission. Our son, who looks like his dad, with pale skin, blond hair, and blue eyes, wouldn't have been able to receive the priesthood, serve a mission, be a home teacher, or ever be in a position of leadership over white church members.
As parents, we would have had to determine when and how to explain to our children why a God who supposedly loved us all equally had cursed us, why we were less worthy, and why we were a caste apart from our non-black brothers and sisters, which is what Mormon prophets taught as doctrine and/or failed to denounce well into the 2000s.
Our children would have grown up believing: "Those who were less valiant in the pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God and his murder of Abel being a black skin...but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, based on His eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate" (Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, "Mormon Doctrine", published and sold by Deseret Book from 1958-2010).
Those, and far more heinous "doctrine," are the things black Mormon parents ACTUALLY had to tell their kids...
What does that do to a person, let alone a child's, self-esteem and self-worth? What sort of God would allow His chosen and anointed prophets, seers, and revelators to dispense and perpetuate such filth in Christ's name for 150 years? How can a child feel love from a God who they are told feels this way about them?
These are also the things white Mormons taught their kids, as they justified why it was okay to treat black people differently. Those kids are now adults, and they're the ones leading the Mormon church.
I had never personally felt the sting and shame of racism in my life, until I felt it through the Mormon church.
I remained in the church for five more years after I learned about these things, but I went through periods of intense anger, confusion, betrayal, sadness, resentment, guilt, shame, otherness, self-loathing, and doubt. I still wanted to believe the church was true and made every effort to study the "doctrine" with an eye of faith and by using church-approved resources (as the church discourages using non-Mormon resources for study...), but the church had little to nothing to say on the history of blacks at the time and didn't provide answers or address it in their manuals or websites; white-washing, modifying, and withholding information is intentional and openly advocated by church leadership (https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mantle-far-far-greater-intellect).
It all felt so wrong, but I would shove those feelings down. I'd go to church. Fulfill my callings. Read my scriptures. Fast and pray. Because I believed that if I left, I'd be sacrificing my salvation and my eternal family.
And then something would trigger those feelings or questions and the cycle would start all over again; each time with anger and bitterness more intense than the time before. I often felt sick with myself. Who was I? I belonged to an organization that taught and preached things I hated, but that I felt bound to; I was so entrenched--from family to friends to my own personal fear that I'd be defying God--leaving wasn't really something I even considered. For five years I experienced an identity crisis of massive proportions. Oftentimes, the worse I felt about the history, the stronger I supported the church--how else could I justify staying?
Well-meaning friends and church leaders would admonish me to "Just be patient and have more faith! You may not understand it now but answers will come!" I would then feel immense guilt, believing that the reason I was struggling with this (when it didn't seem to bother anyone else) was that my faith was weak.
In my final year in the church, I was in an incredibly dark, depressing place. Even reading the Book of Mormon became painful to me, as it's also filled with verses that assert that God cursed unrighteous peoples with black skin (2Nephi 5:21, 2 Nephi 30:6, Jacob 3:5, Alma 3:6,8, 3 Nephi 2:15-16, Moses 5:40, Moses 7:8, Moses 7:22, Abraham 1:24).
I was hurt that these things happened. I was hurt the church didn't apologize for them. I was hurt that the church ignored them. I was hurt that members ignored them.
I was angry that the church tried to cover it up by changing the history and sharing half-truths. I was angry that for 150 years prophets said the bans were doctrines received by direct revelation from God, but that today they say they weren't and now simply refer to them as "folklore" and "policies".
I know that church leaders will probably never directly admit to the origins of the racist policies, the doctrinal and prophetic conundrums raised by their 150 year existence, nor ever sincerely apologize for them (something black Mormons desperately want), because that would require them to admit that their prophets were and can be wrong.
After five years of mental gymnastics, of forcing myself to accept/justify/sustain things that I believed to be wrong, (ie: polygamy, the church's treatment of LGBTQ people and its policy banning their children from becoming Mormon, the church's involvement in discriminatory politics like Proposition 8 (which fought gay marriage in California), misogyny and patriarchy within the church, etc.), I finally gave myself permission to study the church and its history objectively, allowing room for reason, logic, and intellect as well as faith, and to be okay with whatever answer I came to regarding my beliefs about the truthfulness of the church.
That's when it all came crashing down.
I studied many topics, extensively.
I studied Brigham Young's endorsement and implementation of slavery in Utah Territory, the origins and justifications of the church's racist doctrine and policies, Joseph Smith's multiple and vastly differing accounts of his first vision, historical accounts of how the Book of Mormon was "actually translated" using a hat and a seer stone, the origins and inaccuracies of the Book of Abraham, the corruption, lies, coercion, and child brides during the years of polygamy, the innumerable changes to wording and doctrine within the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, the many instances in which Mormon prophets contradicted each other, scriptures, and even themselves (Adam-God doctrine, the evils of birth control, etc.).
This information didn't come from "anti-Mormon" sources--most of it came from neutral, peer-reviewed sources as well as historical church publications, including Journal of Discourses, General Conference talks, document scans of past church leaders' journals, History of the Church, and archived Ensign articles.
The moment I first formed the words in my mind, "None of this makes sense because the Mormon church isn't true," I felt like a 10 ton weight had been lifted off of me. I felt free. I felt peace. I felt a happiness I hadn't felt in years.
Despite having had it drilled into me for the last 10 years that the Mormon gospel was the only way to peace and happiness, I finally considered the possibility of leaving,
and the thought filled me with unadulterated joy.
I did not leave the church because of sin, because I was angry, because I had a "faith-crisis," or because I gave up.
I chose to leave because I no longer believe in it. The church had become a place of anxiety, anger, and depression for me because it fundamentally contradicted who I am and what I believe. Leaving was a deeply studied, well-informed, much agonized over, conscious decision.
Leaving the church has been liberating, but it has of course been a tricky thing to navigate with family and friends who are still Mormon. Despite that, it's been an AMAZING decision for me and I have no regrets.
Life outside the church is good. Living your authentic life is good. Logic is good. Listening to and trusting yourself is good. You'll find that those who truly love you for who you are, and who are secure enough with their own beliefs and convictions, will stick by you.
I left the Mormon church a year ago, after 10 years as a member.
I'm happy I did.
In the end, there were many, many reasons I finally chose to leave, but my loss of trust (and ultimately belief) in the faith began six years after my baptism, when I learned that the Mormon church officially practiced systematic racism until 1978. From 1852-1978, faithful black men weren't allowed to be ordained to the priesthood, and black men, women, and children weren't allowed to enter the temple or be sealed to their families, solely because of their race.
Yes...1978...14 years after the US Civil Rights Act was passed, and after the rest of America was starting to get it right.
Being half-black, the church's doctrines, revelations, and policies of racism hurt me deeply; they were incredibly personal for me.
Had my dad been Mormon, he would have lived with this policy for 20 years of his life. Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, he already experienced racism everywhere else; he would have also felt it at church, while still calling his fellow white church-members "brother" and "sister."
Had I been born just one generation earlier, I most likely wouldn't have married my husband, who is white, because the church condemned interracial marriage, and asserted it had a gospel-centered basis. I wouldn't have been able to enter the temple, to be sealed to our children, wear the temple garments, or serve a mission. Our son, who looks like his dad, with pale skin, blond hair, and blue eyes, wouldn't have been able to receive the priesthood, serve a mission, be a home teacher, or ever be in a position of leadership over white church members. Our daughter also wouldn't have been able to be sealed to her spouse or children for eternity.
As parents, we would have had to determine when and how to explain to our children why a God who supposedly loved us all equally had cursed us, why we were less worthy, and why we were a caste apart from our non-black brothers and sisters, which is what Mormon prophets taught as doctrine and/or failed to denounce well into the 2000s.
Our children would have grown up believing: "Those who were less valiant in the pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God and his murder of Abel being a black skin...but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, based on His eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate" (Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, "Mormon Doctrine", published and sold by Deseret Book from 1958-2010).
Those, and far more heinous "doctrine," are the things black Mormon parents ACTUALLY had to tell their kids...
What does that do to a person, let alone a child's, self-esteem and self-worth? What sort of God would allow His chosen and anointed prophets, seers, and revelators to dispense and perpetuate such filth in Christ's name for 150 years? How can a child feel love from a God who they are told feels this way about them?
These are also the things white Mormons taught their kids, as they justified why it was okay to treat black people differently.
Those kids are now adults, and they're the ones leading the Mormon church.
I had never personally felt the sting and shame of racism in my life, until I felt it through the church.
I remained in the church for five more years after I learned about these things, but I went through periods of intense anger, confusion, betrayal, sadness, resentment, guilt, shame, otherness, self-loathing, and doubt. I still wanted to believe the church was true and made every effort to study the "doctrine" with an eye of faith and by using church-approved resources (as the church discourages using non-Mormon resources for study...), but the church had little to nothing to say on the history of blacks at the time and didn't provide answers or address it in their manuals or websites.
I've since learned that white-washing, modifying, and withholding information from church members is intentional, wide-spread, and openly endorsed by church leadership (https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/mantle-far-far-greater-intellect).
It all felt so wrong, but I would shove it all down. Go to church. Fulfill my callings. Read my scriptures. Fast and pray. Feel some sort of peace over the whole thing. Because I believed that if I left, I'd be sacrificing my salvation and my eternal family.
And then something would trigger those feelings or questions and the cycle would start all over again; each time with anger and bitterness more intense than the time before. I often felt sick with myself. Who was I? I belonged to an organization that taught and preached things I hated, but that I felt bound to; I was so entrenched--from family to friends to my own personal fear that I'd be defying God--leaving wasn't really something I even considered. For five years I experienced an identity crisis of massive proportions. Oftentimes, the worse I felt about the history, the stronger I supported the church--how else could I justify staying? Well-meaning friends and church leaders would admonish me to "Just be patient and have more faith! You may not understand it now but answers will come!"
I would then feel immense guilt, believing that the reason I was struggling with this when it didn't seem to bother anyone else was that my faith was weak.
In my final year in the church, I was in an incredibly dark, depressing place. Even reading the Book of Mormon became painful to me, as it's also filled with verses that assert that God cursed unrighteous peoples with black skin (2Nephi 5:21, 2 Nephi 30:6, Jacob 3:5, Alma 3:6,8, 3 Nephi 2:15-16, Moses 5:40, Moses 7:8, Moses 7:22, Abraham 1:24).
I was hurt that these things happened. I was hurt the church didn't apologize for them. I was hurt that the church ignored them. I was hurt that members ignored them.
I was angry that the church tried to cover it up by changing the history and sharing half-truths. I was angry that for 150 years prophets said the bans were doctrines received by direct revelation from God, but that today they say they weren't and now simply refer to them as "folklore" and "policies". I'm angry that they don't address how it's possible for a past prophet to claim God told him to do something, but later prophets can say God actually didn't. If "prophets" can be wrong when they invoke God's name, why believe anything any of them say?
I know that church leaders will probably never directly admit to to the origins of the racist policies, the doctrinal and prophetic conundrums raised by their 150 year existence, nor ever sincerely apologize for them (something black Mormons desperately want), because that would require them to admit that their prophets were and can be wrong.
But it's insulting that they think we're not smart enough to figure that out.
After five years of mental gymnastics, of forcing myself to accept/justify/sustain things that I believed to be wrong, (ie: polygamy, the church's treatment of LGBTQ people and its policy banning their children from baptism/baby blessings/missionary service, the church's involvement in discriminatory politics like Prop 8, misogyny and patriarchy within the church, etc.), I finally gave myself permission to study the church and its history objectively, from an intellectual and academic perspective, and to be okay with whatever answer I came to regarding my beliefs about the truthfulness of the church.
That's when it all came crashing down.
I studied A LOT. Hours, and days, and weeks of INTENSE study.
I studied Brigham Young's endorsement and implementation of slavery in Utah Territory. Joseph Smith's multiple and vastly differing accounts of his first vision. Historical accounts of how the Book of Mormon was actually translated using a hat and a seer stone. The illigitimacy and inaccuracies of the Book of Abraham. The corruption, lies, coercion, and child brides during the years of polygamy. The innumerable changes to wording and doctrine within the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. The countless times prophets contradicted each other, scriptures, and even themselves (Adam-God doctrine, the evils of birth control, etc.). The church's historical and current overt attempts to censor and cover-up information that damages its reputation.
This information didn't come from "anti-Mormon" sources--most of it came from neutral, peer-reviewed scholarly articles and/or church publications, including Journal of Discourses, General Conference talks, document scans of past church leaders' journals, History of the Church, archived Ensign articles.
The moment I first formed the words in my mind, "None of this makes sense because the Mormon church isn't true," I felt like a 10 ton weight had been lifted off of me. I felt free. I felt peace. I felt a happiness I hadn't felt in years.
Despite having had it drilled into me for the last 10 years that the Mormon gospel was the only way to peace and happiness, I came clean to myself that the church had become a place that made me anxious, confused, angry, and depressed, because in its most fundamental ways it was a contradiction to who I am and what I believe.
For the first time in 10 years I thought of leaving, and the thought filled me with unadulterated joy.
Telling my branch president--vocalizing the words--that I was leaving the church, was liberating. Leaving the church has been a tricky thing to navigate with family and friends who are still Mormon, but it's been an AMAZING decision for me and I have no regrets.
Life outside the church is good. Living your authentic life is good. Logic is good. Listening to and trusting yourself is good. You'll find that those who truly love you for who you are, and who are secure enough with their own beliefs and convictions, will stick by you.
I left the Mormon church a year ago, after 10 years as a member.
I'm happy I did.
DNA evidence, CES Letter, Book of Abraham hoax, and Joseph Smith being a charlatan.
Over the years, some doctrinal things started to gnaw at me. I couldn't square our clear doctrine of eternal families with my personal experiences with LGTBQIA+ friends and family. It just didn't make sense to me that God would ask them to live a life on this earth without ever being able to experience romantic attraction and love with someone they truly wanted to be with and make a family with. I cried about it many times, just thinking about what a cruel situation it was. I also remember feeling sympathetic to the "Ordain Women" movement, although I didn't know enough about feminism and wasn't brave enough to join them at the time. Polygamy didn't always bother me, but I did feel very negatively towards Joseph Smith after reading more about him and his personality and what he put Emma through (in a book called "'The Mormon People" by Matthew Bowman. After that
Life sort of continued as usual until my husband (through his own chain of shelf-breaking events) read the CES Letter. He told me about it, and other things he was finding out about church history. It didn't shock or bother me too much, but I felt that he was overreacting. For a while I would just listen to him, and then I decided I should probably read it myself to gain a better understanding of where he was coming from. Once I did, that was pretty much it for me. I felt after reading it that Joseph Smith had just created a cult back in 1830 that has now turned into something less cult-y. But the most important thing I took away was that it was all made up. That combined with the other issues I mentioned in the first paragraph shattered my shelf.
I continued going to church for a while until the cognitive dissonance became unbearable, and then I asked to be released from my ward organist calling and told my bishop I didn't want to attend anymore. (He is amazing, and so is our whole ward. They've been very respectful of our journey.) It's been a very trying year and a half emotionally. I've been dealing with depression and feelings of intense existential crisis (not sure if that's the right term). Basically, it's really effing hard to live your whole life with certainty and then to come to the realization that it's all an illusion. But therapy and many long, raw talks with my husband have helped. It's been extremely therapeutic to let my family know where I stand in a non-confrontational way and to answer their questions with confidence, although I know not everyone is so lucky.
Simply put, my shelf broke, and the cons of church activity in that state of turmoil began to outweigh the pros. There were some minor concerns before my shelf started getting heavy, but they could always be explained, rationalized, or disregarded as anti-mormon. After some serious study, the concerns became insurmountable and it became clear that my family and I would have a hard time participating in the church we love as non-traditional/unorthodox believers.
As seniors my husband and I served a mission to Capetown, South Africa. On our second day in the country, we were involved in a road accident in the mission's Volkswagen van. We were passengers in the back seat and received the worst injuries. My husband's neck was broken, my back and many other bones. We had cuts and bruising everywhere.
GOD DIDN'T PROTECT US. We were wearing our temple garment underwear, we were being faithful by serving a mission and yet... I didn't give up on the church over that of course but it did begin a series of questions about why and why God seemed to have abandoned Africa - I had never seen such poverty - even among the faithful members of the church. The accident happened in April and on July 4th my son-in-law's battle with cancer ended with his death at age 32. Just before Christmas one of our missionaries, newly arrived from the USA on Wed, was killed in yet another car accident on Friday - WHY? We returned home to Canada after serving for 18 months, but I could not settle into the old way of life knowing that people in Africa were hungry, needed education and jobs, so we raised money and went back to our old mission area to give out micro loans for people to start their own businesses. WHY doesn't the church do that? My second son left the church and I wanted to know why. He shared what information he had about the history of the church and before too long, I had read all of that and so much more. It was a terrible time for me and I felt quite suicidal. I didn't know who I was if, after 39 years, I was no longer 'Sister Bodie', the bishop's wife, the branch president's wife, the seminary teacher etc. Some of my family members and my children were angry / upset with me for leaving the church, my husband and I were arguing about the information I was discovering and I realized that God didn't even care about that. If God loved anyone, ever, he certainly did not love me. I learned that 'feelings' are not a good way to determine what is true. I learned that information needed sources to even be considered. I learned that the reason why black men could not receive the priesthood was pure racism. I learned that the church is a racist, misogynistic organization that does not deserve the loyalty of its members - so I resigned my membership.
I had always enjoyed science and had many things church related on my shelf due to that background. I learned about skepticism and finally applied it to my own belief and it all fell apart.
I came to a moment described in To Whom Shall We Go? By Elder M. Russell Ballard where he said:
“Life can be like hikers ascending a steep and arduous trail. It is a natural and normal thing to occasionally pause on the path to catch our breath, to recalculate our bearings, and to reconsider our pace. Not everyone needs to pause on the path, but there is nothing wrong with doing so when your circumstances require. In fact, it can be a positive thing for those who take full advantage of the opportunity to refresh themselves with the living water of the gospel of Christ.”
I had paused on the path. I had no intention of leaving it. I just had to take a spell, breath, and refresh myself. And refresh myself I did. In the end, I had my testimony. I had all my spiritual witnesses. So, I decided to use my strong faith as another support for my shelf. In fact, it became the dust cloth for my shelf. Everything on it was covered over with my faith. I wouldn’t have to look at it.
I could not deny the feelings I had had. In addition to that, I saw the net result of the church as good. Sure, there were some skeletons and unknowns, but in the end my family was happy, the church helps a lot of people, and I had been very happy during my most faithful times in the church. Even if what I had found was true, that the church was founded by a charlatan treasure hunter, that the secession of the prophetic mantle went to a man whose teachings are disavowed by current leaders, that maybe the church isn’t true after all…even if this was the reality, the church as it stands today is a force for good, and persisting in a church that teaches such wonderful things would give us good structure and education.
I continued on the path. I asked for and fulfilled callings. I went to church. I asked to give talks in sacrament meetings. I bore my testimony when possible. I renewed my temple recommend. I was returning, my testimony was strengthening.
And I was happy.
Then one day, a news article popped up on my feed. It covered the infamous www.mormonleaks.io and a new newsroom post, showing the church’s sexual abuse reporting policy was directly protecting and covering up sexual abuse and the offenders.
One of the many atrocities from that PDF:
The missionary department is reluctant to send this Elder home to [REDACTED] where he may face prosecution for a felony. His conduct is clearly unlawful in [REDACTED] , and his Stake President would have a duty to report. The Elder also recently confessed to kissing and some touching with a 15 year old girl in the mission field.
I took that post along with other public reports to my loved ones. It was then that I learned of how this had happened to people I know and love. I was able to corroborate, and know that the church has an ongoing history of practicing loose regard of sexual abusers, as well as cover up of such atrocities.
Finally, in my privileged eyes I could no longer deny: the net result of the church was bad. My shelf broke. How could I, in good conscience, have my name tied to such an organization? How could my hard-earned wages, my time, my service, my family, and my life go towards an organization that had abused people I love, covered it up, and left those abusers in places of power? How could it do this countless other times?
I finally knew that the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints belittled women and minorities, fought against basic human rights, hurt those seeking comfort, harbored and enabled sexual abusers, and lent to the systematic oppression of anything and anyone that would threaten its doctrine, image, financials, or reach. It continues to teach that those born in this day and in the Mormon corridor are chosen spirits, which is just a positive spin on their existing doctrine that people born in other countries and times are less-worthy spirits. This means my deceased son, my niece, my cousin, my brother-in-law, my friends…many of my loved ones…all are less valiant spirits. That they accepted their “condition” just to be able to come here. What kind of hateful elitism is this?!
Now, I am ashamed. Ashamed that, as a white American male, I have been so privileged that I have not realized all this sooner. I had turned a blind eye, followed indoctrination, believed in teachings that created a systematic culture of abuse, inequality, hatred, suppression, and anti-love. I had to get out. I had to remove all association I held with the church. Since then I have learned so, so much more. The lies seem to never end. And today I stand happy, prouder of myself than I have been in a long time. With a clear conscience, my affiliation with the destructive organization comes to an end. I now disavow the church and its hateful teachings. I do not disavow the members. The indoctrination and deceit are real. And there is much good. But as the church itself taught me, if the ice cream is good, but has a little cockroach in it, just don’t eat it.
Turns out, this ice cream has a little more than a cockroach in it.
You may rightly be asking now “But what of your feelings, your testimony?” To which I will reply: But what of these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycUvC9s4VYA ?
There is so much more I want to share.
For those faithful reading this, know that my exit has brought me so much peace and happiness, despite the difficulties that come with the paradigm shift. I now am free to love everyone as Christ taught, without fear of social stigma or doctrine telling me it is wrong to do so. Nor does that love have addendums, conditions, or secret judgement. I can now denounce my privilege. I can now step aside to help my wife flourish.
I did not resign so I could enjoy the “pleasures of the flesh.” I resigned in hope that my children can now be better people outside of an organization that lets racism, sexism, bigotry, and anti-intellectualism fly under the banner of God. I resigned with hopes that they can be better people than me. Oh, and so they are less likely to be sexually abused, and made to feel guilty while the abuser is protected.
For everyone who reads this, I am sorry. Please help me be a better person as I start my new, post-mormon life. And to anyone with continuing questions or comments, please feel free to reach out 😊
I believed it all until I felt it damaging to believe. I jumped straight past issues in the church and went full atheist. This caused close to a decade of contention with my then active wife. I started listening to podcasts on mixed faith marriages in an attempt to better understand my wife. This led to my discovery of so much nastiness cluttering up nearly every aspect of the church. It was only a few months of revealing these truths to my wife before she joined me in post Mormon happiness.
It's complicated. I still believe in the principles of the gospel, and love the church as I understood it when I learned about it. But I have since learned a new (actual) church history that I cannot reconcile with my principled beliefs. I can say that I left mormonism because I studied church history and because I have to live with integrity. Things didn't line up with what I'd believed, I'd been fed a line (and I'd taught the same on my mission no less) about how perfect the church was and honorable the founders of the religion were, but after studying them I don't think they had integrity or were acting under true direction from God. I was saddened to come to that conclusion because I had a real love for the mormon religion and views on Christ and the plan of salvation. I liked the certainty it gave me in my life. But if the church foundation wasn't what it said it was: if the leaders aren't men of God, if the priesthood is merely a trump card in a power struggle, if eternal marriage is the twisted offspring of polygamy and polyandry, if the temple ceremony is more from masonry than revelation, if, if, if, etc. Then, I can only see Mormonism as a tribe. A single tribe in a world of many tribes. A tribe with some serious issues including a compulsive obsession for truth claims. Also, a tribe I was still interested in being a part of, but as more of a non-believer in those truth claims. It became too difficult to participate in any sort of gray space because no matter how welcoming the church professes to be – in its current state of existence, it relies on these very truth claims as an integral part of its identity and can't allow dissentious thoughts to be introduced without shutting them down. They claim to welcome everyone, and that doubt is ok, but in action are actively seeking to exile that gray space and forcing those of my persuasion to participate in the tribe as a silent observer, and be judged unfaithful and unworthy. I left because that was not a healthy place to be and over time, my need to participate in the church practices diminished more and more.
My wife was struggling with her own faith transition, and I dug in so I could help her through that. As I dug in, it became harder and harder to accept the things I was discovering along with readdressing many of the things already on my shelf. Church history and social issues and cultural issues all piled up and my shelf broke. It was devastating at the time, everything I thought I knew crumbled and I realized it wasn't true. Over time, I've been able to reconstruct what I believe and though I've kept a hold of many principles I learned in my mormon-upbringing, the mormon church is not something I've kept a hold of. Me letting go of the church has been devastating to friends and family as well, and I didn't appreciate that so much of my identity to them was tied up in being mormon. I wanted to help destigmatize leaving somehow and that's where this site came in. I wanted to share my story but also allow others to share their own.